Occasionally, clinicians (especially surgeons) find foreign bodies or particles in their patients, which are usually the result of shedding from the surgical instruments, contamination from the environment (fibres from theatre fabrics, such as gowns and drapes) or due to an instrument failing and a piece of the instrument breaking off and lodging in the patient.

SMTL offer a service where they undertake an analyses of the particles (in house and using external facilities), and will produce a report detailing the composition of the item, and in many cases, the potential source of the particle as well. These reports can be useful in detecting instrument problems and may be useful in litigation cases.

What to do if you wish SMTL to investigate:

  • If you have the particle/item available, place it in a clean universal container (or another similarly clean and safe container);
  • Label it with the date and sufficient information to uniquely identify it, and place in a locked draw so that it cannot be tampered with;
  • Ring SMTL (01656-752820) and ask for the Physical Testing team. They will be able to discuss the procedure with you, give you an estimated cost and timescale, and details on how to arrange delivery of the item to SMTL.


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