Specialist surgeons flew from Hanoi to assist at the operation in Thai Nguyen Province in the north of the country. The 54-year-old patient visited the hospital after being involved in a road accident last month, and an ultrasound test seemed to show a sharp instrument lying to the left of his stomach. A second check in a hospital in his nearby home province of Bac Kan removed any doubt - there was a 15cm (6-inch) pair of surgical scissors nestling next to his colon, Tuoi Tre newspaper reports.
Ma Van Nhat says they may have been left inside him during a 1998 operation at Bac Kan General Hospital following another road accident, Vietnam Express reports. He had noticed nothing since that time apart from some recent stomach pain, which did not respond to painkillers. The surgeons who carried out the three-hour procedure note the rusty handles of the scissors had become stuck to some nearby organs.
The Health Ministry has ordered Bac Kan General Hospital to report on who may have left the scissors in Mr Ma by the end of the week. Hospital Director Trinh Thi Luong says she will do what she can, but doctors told Tuoi Tre that hospitals rarely keep patient records for more than 15 years. As for Mr Ma, he is expected to return home next week.