The family of an elderly patient who died in Germany after surgeons left 16 different items in his body during a routine operation is now suing hospital authorities for over $120,000.

Dirk Schroeder was said to have suffered "appalling agony" after the routine surgery for prostate cancer in 2009. Doctors had told him that he could expect to live another six years at least.

However, the procedure failed to relieve his pain, and within three months the 74-year-old was back in hospital after a nurse on a home visit in Hanover, Germany discovered a huge gauze pad protruding from his wound, according to

Later, after two subsequent operations, surgeons managed to remove 16 different items from Schroeder's body, including a needle, a six-inch toll of bandage, a six-inch long compress and several swabs and a piece of surgical mask.

While Schroder had survived the tragic ordeal, his cancer had later spread and he died in 2011.

Schroeder's family has now launched a lawsuit against the hospital seeking $121,000 in damages.

"Such an extent of foreign objects left inside a patient is unique in medical literature," family lawyer and medical expert Annette Corinth told Daily Mail.

The unnamed hospital claimed that the surgical items found inside Schroeder's body entered the body "post-operative" but did not suggest how the elderly man could have ingested them.

"I hope the hospital will settle but otherwise the family are prepared to go all the way and sue in court," Corinth said. "The family of the deceased spent lots of money on care, medicines and reconstruction of their home to look after this man."

"There has been gross negligence here which most probably had led to complications and possibly a quicker death," Corinth concluded.