Risk of Infection After Surgery

Risk of infection after surgery can be devastating and require further surgery or prolonged treatment.  Severe problems such as sepsis, organ failure and even death can occur if not treated quickly and properly.  While surgeons take thorough precautions prior to the surgery starting, our skin and environment contain millions of bacteria that can still cause an infection.  

There are many risk factors that can make you more susceptible to a post-operative infection:

– BMI > 40

– Smoking

– Poor Nutrition

– Diabetes

– Prior Surgery on the affected area

– Recent cortisone injection in to the joint within 3 month period

– Suppressed immune systems

– Open wounds or sores

– Steroids

Some of these risk factors can be changed or modified to reduce the chances of an infection occurring.  Ways to decrease some of these risks are:

– Smoking cessation

– Weight loss 

– Improved nutrition.  

– Skin preparation by bathing with a topical antiseptic beginning 3 days leading up to the surgery 

– Keeping the incision site clean and covered 

– No submerging the incision under water for the first 3 weeks or until your doctor has said it is ok

– Watch for signs of infection from the incision

– If prescribed antibiotics, be sure to take them as directed until they are gone

Most infections will start within 30 days of surgery.  Identifying the start of one and having it treated promptly could keep it from getting in the blood stream.  Bacterial infections can often be prevented with caution and care.  Reducing controlled risk factors prior to your surgery and following your doctors instructions will help keep chances of one starting to a minimum.

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