Surgical Site Infection
(SSI; Surgical Wound Infection)
A surgical site infection (SSI) is an infection linked to recent surgery. Most SSIs involve just the skin. Some may infect deep tissue or organs.
The sooner an SSI is treated, the better the outcome.
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Bacteria are the most common cause of SSIs.
Factors that may increase your chance an SSI are:
An SSI may cause:
- Fever more than 100.5ºF 48 hours or more after surgery
- Fast heart rate
- Chest pain
Symptoms in the area where the surgery took place:
- Bad smell
Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and past heath. Your wound will be checked.
Tests may include the following:
Treatment options include:
- Antibiotics—may be given as pills or through IV
Surgery—to clean out the infection
- The wound may need to be reopened.
- It can be flushed with fluid to clean out pus.
- Special dressing—to help keep area dry and clean
American College of Surgeons
Centers for Disease Control
Canadian Society of Plastic Surgeons
Healthcare-associated infections (HAI). Centers for Disease Control website. Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/hai. Accessed October 2, 2019.
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 website. Available at:http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T316886/Surgical-site-infection-prevention. Accessed October 2, 2019.
Suspected surgical site infection - approach to the patient. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at:https://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T922624/Suspected-surgical-site-infection-approach-to-the-patient. Accessed October 2, 2019.
Last reviewed September 2019 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Donald W. Buck II, MD Last Updated: 6/12/2020