Sometimes, we can’t finish a transplant in one operation, so we “pack the patient”, send them to SICU for a few hours to let their body recover, and bring them back to finish the anastomosis.
"Packing the patient"- Basically means we stuff laps (super absorbent countable sponges) in the patient’s abdomen to help control bleeding.
Lap sponges are countable items; each one has a radiopaque marker (the dark blue strips) that will show up in an X-ray.
When packing a patient, the OR team counts how many laps are going into the patient and the nurse makes a note on the chart (ie “12 LAPS AS PACKING”).
When the patient is brought back to the OR for part 2 of their operation, the incision is reopened and all of the packed laps are removed, counted, and verified with the note made on the chart.
Before the end of the procedure, A/P and lateral X-rays are taken to confirm that there are no other countable items in the patient. Once the radiologist confirms a negative reading, the surgeons can close the incision and dressings are applied.
Picture 1: Pack of clean, unused laps. Laps come in packs of 5.
Picture 2: 12 bloody laps were removed from one patient’s abdomen.