Trocar-Related Safety Events in Minimally Invasive Surgical Procedures: Risks for Organ and Vascular Complications




patient safety, trocar, Veress needle, laparoscopy, robotic surgery, laceration, perforation


visual abstract

A trocar is a hollow device used during minimally invasive surgery that serves as an entry port for optical scopes and surgical equipment. Insertion of this device into the body is determined using anatomical landmarks taking into consideration the patient’s history and physical attributes, e.g., scars or abdominal size. Insertion of the first trocar is the time of highest risk of injury. Intestinal and vascular injuries are two potentially life-threatening injuries that can occur. A retrospective review of trocar-related events submitted to the Pennsylvania Patient Safety Reporting System (PA-PSRS) between January 1, 2014, and June 30, 2020, identified 268 events. Internal organ and vascular injuries accounted for 81.0% of events; trocar site skin integrity injuries, bleeding/hemorrhage, and hernias accounted for 17.2% of events; and vasovagal responses accounted for 1.9% of events. Internal injuries occurring during the initial insertion of the trocar, Veress needle, or incision in preparation for a trocar insertion was reported in 64.5% of events. Adhesions were identified in 13.5% of internal injury events. Many internal injury events identified a single injury; however, in 17 instances patients sustained two trocar-related injuries. Conversion to open surgery, return to the operating room during the same admission, postoperative intensive care unit admission, ambulatory surgical facility transfer to a hospital, readmission, postdischarge return to the operating room, and death are outcomes identified in the event reports.

Author Biography

Lea Anne Gardner, PhD, RN, Patient Safety Authority

Lea Anne Gardner ( is a patient safety analyst with the Patient Safety Authority. She has more than 30 years of research experience in patient safety, performance improvement, cardiology, and behavioral health, and a diversified work experience, including roles as a national director of quality improvement, administrative director of population health and an institutional review board, a coronary intensive care nurse, a clinical research nurse, and a nurse research/leadership preceptor. Gardner is also a Certified Professional in Patient Safety (CPPS).


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Surgery using a TROCAR



How to Cite

Gardner, L. A. (2021). Trocar-Related Safety Events in Minimally Invasive Surgical Procedures: Risks for Organ and Vascular Complications. Patient Safety, 3(1), 63–73.



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