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Going under the knife? Hopefully your doctor won't leave anything inside you.

Medical devices that break or malfunction, leaving behind potentially deadly debris is an under-recognized problem.

Earlier this year, U.S. Food and Drug Administration officials warned clinicians about the danger of devices that litter patients' bodies. Some of the most common items left in patients bodies include broken stents, torn balloons, fractured wires, catheter tips to drill bits.

Patients who have foreign substances in their bodies may experience complications such as local tissue rejection, inflammation, perforation, blood vessel obstruction and death. Medical debris left in the body can migrate throughout the body, or interact with future procedures such as magnetic resonance imaging. Metal objects might overheat during MRI's and scorch patients from the inside.

Empower yourself

Ask your doctor to explain potential complications of medical procedures and devices well before surgery begins. If a device is being removed, ask to see it. After a surgery, ask if anything was left behind. Ask your doctor symptoms of complications. Also, ask for your medical records. This will be valuable in the future if you discover that a device was left behind.

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