Legal: Bilateral ureter injury during hysterectomy

March 1, 2009

A 41-year-old woman undergoes an abdominal hysterectomy and sues for negligence.

A 41-year-old Arizona woman underwent an abdominal hysterectomy performed by her gynecologist. She sued those involved and alleged they were negligent in damaging both ureters and failing to recognize the injury despite little or no urine output during the procedure. She underwent several surgical procedures to repair the injuries and she continues to have urinary incontinence. She claimed that the surgeon failed to identify the ureters, failed to take steps to ensure the ureters were not injured during the procedure, and failed to confirm the ureters were patent by using dye or performing an IVP before closing.

The physicians argued that a ureter injury is a known complication of the procedure and that any injury was due to anatomic variation/distortion, possibly caused by a fibroid tumor and the patient's obesity. Since they did not suspect ureteral injury, there was no reason to use dye or do an IVP. A defense verdict was returned.