Skip to Content

Unretrieved Device Fragments

Audience: Radiologists, surgeons, hospital risk managers, other healthcare professionals

[Posted 01/15/2008] FDA advised healthcare professionals of serious adverse events associated with unretrieved device fragments (UDFs). A UDF is a fragment of a medical device that has separated unintentionally and remains in the patient after a procedure. Patients may not be aware that this has occurred. The FDA Center for Devices and Radiological Health receives nearly 1000 adverse event reports each year related to UDFs. The adverse events reported included local tissue reaction, infection, perforation and obstruction of blood vessels, and death. Contributing factors may include biocompatibility of the device materials, location of the fragment, potential migration of the fragment, and patient anatomy. During MRI procedures, magnetic fields may cause metallic fragments to migrate, and radiofrequency fields may cause them to heat, causing internal tissue damage and/or burns. See the FDA Public Health Notification for the Agency's recommendations regarding this issue.

[January 15, 2008 - Public Health Notification - FDA]