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Bowel Injury During Removal Of Ovaries

Bowel Injury During Removal Of Ovaries

The removal of a woman's ovaries may be performed as a stand-alone procedure, or as part of a hysterectomy. Either way, the operation carries a number of risks, with damage to pelvic organs such as the bladder being a common complication. If an injury such as this does occur, it must be identified and treated at the time of the operation; a failure to do so will lead to serious health complications for a woman, and could amount to medical negligence.

Removing a Woman's Ovaries

The surgical procedure to remove both a woman's ovaries is known medically as a 'bilateral oophorectomy' (or a 'unilateral oophorectomy' if just one ovary is to be removed.) There are many possible reasons such an operation may be recommended by medical professionals, with some of the most common including the treatment of endometriosis, ovarian cysts, malignant cancer and abscesses.

The procedure can be carried out laparoscopically, which is the technical term for key-hole surgery. This sees a series of small incisions are made to the abdomen and a small tube with a camera on the end is inserted. This relays images back to a TV screen, allowing the surgeon to navigate his way round the pelvic cavity. Instruments are then inserted to remove the ovaries. However, keyhole surgery will not be appropriate for every patient; if so, then a laparotomy may be preferred, whereby cut is made across the abdomen.

What are the Risks?

The potential complications associated with the removal of the ovaries include the following:-

  • Risks connected to general anaesthetic;
  • Haemorrhage (heavy bleeding);
  • Damage to the bladder;
  • Damage to the bowel;
  • Infection;
  • Onset of the menopause.

Anyone who is to undergo an oophorectomy must be informed of the possible risks well in advance of the operation. A woman must then sign a consent form, recognising the fact that she is aware of the dangers involved.

Does a Bowel Injury Amount to Medical Negligence?

Therefore injuries to internal organs such as the bladder and bowel are established risks of oophorectomy. This means that the occurrence of such injuries is not necessarily negligent: even if a surgeon displays the utmost care and attention, it may not be possible to avoid internal damage.

Nevertheless, there are certain occasions in which bowel and bladder injuries during an oophorectomy operation are the direct result of substandard medical treatment. For example, if a surgeon does not take care to avoid such injury, he will have failed to show the necessary skills and expertise that are expected of him. Furthermore, the level of care will be deemed negligent if the surgeon fails to:-

  • Recognise the injury;
  • Seek assistance from a competent colonic surgeon;
  • To carry out competent repairs of the injury.

A failure to detect and/or treat will lead to serious complications for a woman, who will develop additional health problems such as infection and sepsis. Another operation will also be necessary so that repair can be carried out.

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