Surgeons in theatre
Image: National Cancer Institute by Unsplash

Doctors in New Zealand have shocked the world after finding a device the size of a dinner plate inside a woman's body 18 months after undergoing surgery to deliver a baby.

According to BBC News, the device, known as the Alexis Wound Manipulator - a soft tubular device used to hold surgical wounds - was removed just 18 months after giving birth.

The Alexis wound retractor is a large object made of transparent plastic mounted on two rings.

It is usually removed after the uterine incision is closed in the delivery operation and before skin grafting.

During this time, the woman endured excruciating pain and made several trips to the doctor before the device was found on a CT scan.

Health regulators said the public hospital system had failed the patient.

Previously, Te Whatu Ora Auckland district health authorities had argued that they had not failed to exercise due care and skill.

But New Zealand's Health and Disability Commissioner disagreed, in findings released on Monday.

"It is clear that the care provided fell below the appropriate level, because [the contractor] was not identified during any routine surgical checks, resulting in being left in the woman's womb," Morag McDowell said according to the BBC.

"The personnel involved have no explanation as to how the retractor ended up in the abdomen, or why it was not detected before it was closed," he said.

The commissioner noted that it is the second time in two years that a device has been left on a patient at an Auckland hospital. Hospitals should have strict protocols in place, Ms McDowell said.

"The woman experienced prolonged episodes of pain following her surgery until [the retractor] was removed in 2021. I acknowledge her concern about the impact this has on her health and well-being and that of her family," he said.

The woman, aged 20, visited her doctor several times in the 18 months after giving birth in 2020 - and even went to the hospital's emergency department at one point because of the pain. She has not been named to protect her privacy.