Prolonged retention of gauze sponge resulting in ileocolic fistula, a rare complication following cesarean section; case report

Document Type

Case Report


Family Medicine (East Africa)


Introduction and importance

Retained gauze sponge is a medical legal issue with significant clinical implications with catastrophic complications. We report a case of a female who presented with chronic right iliac fossa pain only to be found to have a retained gauze sponge causing bowel fistulisation. We describe our experience on diagnostic formulation and work up and subsequent operative intervention.

Case presentation

We present the case of a 37-year-old female patient who presented to the outpatient surgical department with symptoms of chronic right iliac fossa pain with a history of cesarean section 2 years prior. A computed tomography scan revealed an inflammatory mass and operative exploration revealed a retained gauze sponge causing a fistula between the terminal ileum and caecum. Underwent a right hemicolectomy with an uneventful postoperative period.

Clinical discussion

Retained gauzes can lead to a spectrum of complications including fistulisation presenting with vague non-specific abdominal symptoms. The subtle presentation challenges the clinician to consider the possibility of retained foreign bodies in patient with history of abdominal surgeries. This emphasizes the importance of policies enforcing swab count as a simple retained gauze led to catastrophic complication and ultimately a right hemicolectomy.


This case report presents a complex and instructive clinical scenario, emphasizing the challenges of diagnosing atypical presentations of retained foreign bodies, the critical importance of surgical counting protocols, and the implications for patient safety and quality of care.

Publication (Name of Journal)

International Journal of Surgery Case Reports



Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.