Robotic surgery mishap: 'If they would have just taken an X-ray'

PORTLAND, Ore. - The da Vinci Surgical System is an advanced, high-tech robotic machine that's used right here in Portland.

But is it safe?

Not according to a Southeast Portland woman who said she suffered months of intense pain following a surgery that was performed using the machine.

After her hysterectomy last September, Heidi Carlson knew something wasn't right, but she couldn't convince doctors of that. Now, she wants everybody to know what she went through so they won't have to.

"Anything she suggested, I tried," Carlson said. "Like physical therapy. OK, we'll go try physical therapy. That didn't work. Well, maybe you should see a pain specialist - get injections. OK, go do that. I've heard acupuncture is great. I literally tried everything."

"I was trying to, over and over, make it clear to them that this is a totally different pain," she said. "This is nothing like what I was experiencing before."

After months of not knowing what was wrong, a CT scan finally revealed the mystery - a piece of one of the da Vinci machine's instruments had broken off inside Carlson during her surgery.

"If they would have just taken an X-ray right after the surgery, or really examined all of the instruments, it could have been prevented," she said.

Carlson said she would have considered other surgical options besides the robotic system, but doctors didn't bring those up.

Promotional Video from the Machine's Makers

We are in contact with Legacy Emanuel Medical Center, where the operation took place. There is a lot of paperwork involved with hospital privacy laws and we've started that process to get more details.

Surgeries where foreign objects are left behind are not as uncommon as you might think. A USA Today report that came out earlier this year stated it happens between 4,500 and 6,000 times a year. The most common object left inside a person's body during a surgery is a sponge.

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