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A pair of scissors has been removed from the stomach of a Vietnamese man, 18 years after doctors left them inside him during an operation.

The 15-centimetre-long surgical scissors, by now rusty and broken, were successfully extracted from 54 year-old Ma Van Nhat at Bac Kan General Hospital on Saturday, report The Independent.

Nhat had a traffic accident in 1998, after which he required surgery at the same hospital in northern Vietnam.

Having recently experienced frequent sharp pains, Nhat had his stomach x-rayed and the film showed the scissors lying in his abdomen.

Before Saturday’s operation he stood in front of the hospital displaying the scar from his original operation and the X-ray film showing the scissors.

He is now said to be steadily recovering.

According to the Mirror reports, Bac Kan hospital acknowledged the incident on state television, but said it would be difficult to identify the medical crew responsible as patient records are only kept for 15 years.

“We are trying to find out who was in the operation crew, and even if they are already retired, we will still inform them about the incident that took place during their career,” said the hospital’s director, Trinh Thi Luong.

“This is a lesson to all doctors, especially to surgeons who are working with surgical equipment, this is a valuable experience.”

Reports of medical mistakes are not uncommon in Vietnam.

Last year, there were at least three reported cases of men being diagnosed as pregnant following a blood test, and two reported cases of doctors operating on the wrong limbs.

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