CRDAMC Homepage | CRDAMC Library Phone #: (254) 288-8366 | CRDAMC Library Fax #: (254) 288-8368

Search Health Library

Surgical Site Infection

(SSI; Surgical Wound Infection)

Definition

A surgical site infection (SSI) is an infection in the area where surgery was done. Most SSIs involve the skin, but sometimes deep tissue or organs can become infected.

The sooner a surgical site infection is treated, the better the outcome.

Surgical Site Infection Near the Ankle

exh4672b_105433_1.jpg
Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.

Causes    TOP

SSIs are caused by bacteria.

Risk Factors    TOP

Factors that may increase your chance an SSI are:

  • Poor blood circulation
  • Prior infection
  • Trauma
  • Foreign body in the wound, like a surgical mesh used for a hernia repair
  • Smoking
  • Diabetes
  • Obesity
  • Long-term medical conditions
  • Heart disease
  • Lung disease
  • Weakened immune system
  • Age (elderly and very young)

Symptoms    TOP

An SSI may cause:

  • Fever more than 100.5ºF 48 hours or more after surgery
  • Chills
  • Fast heart rate
  • Chest pain
  • Symptoms in the area where the surgery took place:
    • Redness
    • Drainage
    • Pus
    • Pain
    • Swelling
    • Bad smell

Diagnosis    TOP

Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history, and look at your wound.

Tests may include the following:

  • Wound culture—to test for bacteria in the wound
  • Biopsy—removal of a small piece of tissue from the wound to test for bacteria
  • Ultrasound or CT scan—to look for infection in the wound and nearby areas

Treatment    TOP

Treatment options include:

Antibiotics

Bacterial infections can be treated with antibiotics. The kind of antibiotic you will get depends on the bacteria causing the infection. You may be given antibiotics by IV or by mouth.

Surgery

You may need surgery to clean out the infection from your wound. Your doctor will reopen the wound. It may be flushed with sterile fluid and drained of pus.

Dressing    TOP

Your doctor may order a special dressing to help your wound heal.

Prevention    TOP

To help reduce your chance of an SSI, your doctor may do the following:

  • Give you an antibiotic before, during, and after surgery.
  • Ask you to lose weight or stop smoking.
  • Show you how to wash your skin with an antiseptic soap before your surgery.
  • Give you instructions on how to care for your incision at home—It is important to follow your doctor’s instructions.

RESOURCES:

American College of Surgeons
https://www.facs.org
Centers for Disease Control
https://www.cdc.gov

CANADIAN RESOURCES:

Canadian Society of Plastic Surgeons
http://plasticsurgery.ca

References:

Healthcare-associated infections (HAI). Centers for Disease Control website. Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/hai. Updated July 14, 2017. Accessed September 5, 2017.
Stevens DL, Bisno AL, Chambers HF, et al. Practice guidelines for the diagnosis and management of skin and soft tissue infections: 2014 update by the Infectious Diseases Society of America. Clin Infect Dis. 2014;59(2):e10-e52.
Surgical site infection—prevention. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.... Updated February 7, 2017. Accessed September 5, 2017.
Last reviewed September 2017 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Donald W. Buck II, MD
Last Updated: 9/30/2013

EBSCO Information Services is fully accredited by URAC. URAC is an independent, nonprofit health care accrediting organization dedicated to promoting health care quality through accreditation, certification and commendation.

This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.

To send comments or feedback to our Editorial Team regarding the content please email us at healthlibrarysupport@ebsco.com. Our Health Library Support team will respond to your email request within 2 business days.

Health Library: Editorial Policy | Privacy Policy | Terms and Conditions | Support
36000 Darnall Loop Fort Hood, Texas 76544-4752 | Phone: (254) 288-8000