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What Are Surgical Clips?

Surgical clips or surgical staples are often used during surgery to help control the bleeding from nearby blood vessels. They are a very effective method to provide the surgeon with a clear view during the procedure. It is also a very fast and efficient method allowing the surgeons to cut down on the actual time of the surgery.

Why Are They Left Inside The Body?

They are usually used during abdominal surgeries, removal of the thyroid, ovaries or other organs and then left inside the patient. The reason why they are left inside is to make sure that bleeding remains under control. The surgeons do not want a situation where internal bleeding starts to occur after the surgery has been completed. In major procedures, where a structure of the body is being removed, the nearby blood vessels need to be compressed for a prolonged period of time to control the bleeding.

These surgical clips or staples are also considered as "biologically inert". This means that they are made out of materials which do not evoke any foreign body response in the body. The most common material to be used in such situations is titanium.

The use of such inert materials is quite common across the medical field. Take for example the use of titanium implants which are used in everything from knee replacements to bone augmentation meshes and even in dentistry. They remain in the body without causing any problem whatsoever.

Can Surgical Clips Cause Discomfort?

Several studies have found that surgical clips left inside the body do not cause any pain or discomfort to patients. The large majority get used to them and never even realize anything "foreign" is present inside their bodies.

Anecdotal evidence, however, suggests that some people do develop pain because of these surgical clips being left inside the body. Possible causes of this pain could be the placement of the pins which are applying pressure to a nearby structure or a nerve, however, it is extremely unlikely that such a thing could happen.

There have been recent reports where patients have found that a persistent, chronic pain was alleviated after the removal of these surgical clips from their bodies.

Proper Consent

As a patient, it is important that you ask your doctor about the possibility of these clips being left in place before a planned procedure. (Remember, there are situations when there is not enough time to go over the nitty-gritty details of the surgery.)

Doctors too should ensure that they are informing the patient of anything left inside their bodies, even if it is completely routine and unlikely to cause any problem whatsoever.  The legal realities of our times dictate that all information be shared.


There is no reason to be alarmed if a patient finds the presence of surgical clips present in the body. They are designed to stay inside the body forever without causing any complications. They also do not cause any interference with other medical investigation or radiographs that may need to be done in the future.

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