High-tech tags track surgical objects

February 21, 2013 3:28:27 PM PST
Microchips implanted into a pet's skin have become a popular way of finding a lost dog or cat.

But that same technology is also being used to help doctors in the operating room to prevent a common medical mistake.

Every year, about 4000 objects are left inside patients after surgery - usually, they are sponges or gauze, which can be tough to see once covered in blood.

To make it safer for you, some hospitals are now using surgical sponges with a built-in microchip.

Dr. Alok Sharan, a spine surgeon at Montefiore Medical Center in New York City says, "This chip inside is the new technology and this helps ensure there are no sponges left in the body."

At the end of every procedure, the doctor waves a wand over the patient, looking for that microchip.

If it finds a microchip, it beeps.

The wand helps supplement the standard safety check, which is to count the surgical sponges and gauze before and after the operation.

If the numbers don't match, everything stops, a portable x-ray machine is brought in to look for the object.

Another high-tech tool are gauzes with metallic threads.