What do they put in place of a removed internal body part?

I was reading the thread about Indygrrl’s pending hysterectomy, and I got to wondering: When doctors remove a uterus, or kidney, or lung, or any other internal structure, what do they put in its place? I can’t imagine they would just leave an empty space there… that’s just… weird. :wink: Gauze or any other natural material would cause a serious infection. Saline would be absorbed by the body. Silicone implants would be overkill. What goes in the space?


Nothing is put in its place by doctors.

This thread would seem to indicate that nothing is inserted when a portion of the brain is removed. It doesn’t say anything about other body parts, though.

Oh, wait, that’s not a thread, just one of the Straight Dope Classics!

When Mrs Geek got a hysterectomy they didn’t put anything in its place.

I recall reading a story about a woman who had a lung removed due to lung cancer, and she remarked how it was a weird sensation to have nothing but empty space inside half of her chest.

It’s not like there will be an empty space where the uterus was. There are plenty of guts in there to fill the hole. The same with a kidney. A lung would leave a space. I’ve seen silicone implants to fill the space in a skull where part of the brain was removed. They have silicone testicles to give a normal appearance when one is removed.

I don’t think it would remain a vacuum though, unless there’s bone there to make the skin keep its shape (like in the case of a removed lung/brain matter). Wouldn’t the abdominal cavity just cave in a little? Well, I guess there’s bone surrounding the ovaries and uterus, but I would think that the muscle and fat surrounding a vacant appendix or spleen would just collapse in on itself. I can’t see the body keeping the shape of a spleen for the rest of a person’s life. Right?

Indygrrl will have a flatter stomach. Three cheers, Indygrrl!

Ever seen inside someone’s guts? Stuff is just crammed in there like a suitcase for a week-long vacation. You remove a little chunk of something - or even a big chunk - and the neighboring gunk will just have a little more space to slither around.

Hey, don’t use that high-falutin’ fancy-schmancy medical lingo with ME!

It’s amazing how quickly one’s innards shift around to fill a vacancy. Many years ago my colon was removed. The colon is a large, bulky organ, and you might think there would be a permanently sunken area to mark its absence. When I looked at my abdomen about 12 hours after the surgery, there was a barely noticeable depression where the colon had been. After 24 hours, everything had stabilized in there, and my abdomen looked normal (except for a long scar and a stoma).

I seem to recall a National Geographic article talking about the brain, and they showed someone who had had a radical anatomic hemispherectomy (ie - half their brain physically removed) to control severe epilepsy while fairly young.

One side of his skull had slumped, and he was due to have implants (titanium skull plates) to reshape his head. I wish I could find a picture.

These days, a functional hemispherectomy is more likely - which destroys the hemisphere but leaves the tissue intact.


It’s true that in most cases, nothing is placed in the empty space!

Along those lines, I thought you might like to know that sometimes a heart or kidney (and perhaps other) transplant involves attaching the new organ to the old one, leaving you with two whatevers.

Fudge! :smiley:

…What shall I use
To fill my empty spaces…

Dang, I was shooting for cheez whiz and spicy ground beef.

Oh, sure.

But not on an HMO.

I’m going to regret asking this — I know it will give me nightmares — but how do they destroy a brain hemisphere and yet prevent the tissue from becoming necrotic?

It still has blood circulation then, but no neural activity?

They should make a storage area. You could put your wallet, cell phone, etc…

I’m also wondering how they can destroy a brain hemisphere and leave the itssue intact. I had just learned via the Schiavo case that damaged brain tissue gets re-absorbed, which is why her cerebral cortex was physically gone.

Psst: You realize the reference is to [anti-smut crusader Mary] Whitehouse, not the White House, don’t you?