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Importance of surgical swab counts
  1. Martin Whitehead
  1. Chipping Norton Veterinary Hospital, Albion Street, Chipping Norton, Oxfordshire OX7 5BN
  1. e-mail: martin{at}

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OUR first-opinion veterinary hospital has just dealt with the third case in eight years of severe illness or death in dogs associated with surgical swabs retained in the abdomen, and I write to remind colleagues of the importance of swab counts.

Retained surgical swabs have been reported in cats (Mai and others 2001, Haddad and others 2010) and an opossum (Hickman 2006), but the great majority of cases have been in medium- to large-breed dogs: Forster and others (2011) listed 19 published cases and described 13 more canine cases from their review of surgical referrals over seven years at four referral institutions; a further 11 cases are reported by Terrier and others (1985), Bradley (1995), Bird and others (1996), Zeltzman and others (1998), Papazaglou and Patsikas (2001), …

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