Search in�� ��for��
Career Center
New Hospital Update
Learn More About MCI
Bill Payment
Upcoming Events
Find a Physician
Press Releases
Maps and Directions
Visiting Hours
Medical Services
Specialty Programs and Services
Volunteer Services
Birthing Center Tours
Family Care of Eastern Jackson County
Jackson County Medical Group
Family & Friends
Virtual Body
Virtual Cheercards
Web Babies
Decision Tools
Self-Assessment Tools
Natural and Alternative Treatments Main Index
Health Sources
Cancer InDepth
Heart Care Center
HealthDay News
Wellness Centers
Aging and Health
Alternative Health
Sports and Fitness
Food and Nutrition
Men's Health
Mental Health
Kids' and Teens' Health
Healthy Pregnancy
Travel and Health
Women's Health
Genus MD
Genus MD
Physician Websites
Legal Disclaimers
Privacy Notice

Send This Page To A Friend
Print This Page

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.

Surgical Site Infection Near the Ankle


Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.


Causes    TOP

Bacteria are the most common cause of SSIs.


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 past heath. Your wound will be checked.

Tests may include the following:

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

Treatment    TOP

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

Prevention    TOP

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

  • An antibiotic just before surgery
  • Antibiotics if there were signs of an infection at time of surgery
  • Lose weight before the surgery
  • Stop smoking
  • Wash your skin with an antiseptic soap before your surgery

American College of Surgeons

Centers for Disease Control


Canadian Society of Plastic Surgeons

Wounds Canada


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.com/topics/dmp~AN~T316886/Surgical-site-infection-prevention . Updated September 4, 2018. Accessed October 2, 2018.

Suspected surgical site infection - approach to the patient. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T922624/Suspected-surgical-site-infection-approach-to-the-patient . Updated August 20, 2018. Accessed October 2, 2018.

Last reviewed September 2018 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Donald W. Buck II, MD
Last Updated: 10/2/2018

Health References
Health Conditions
Therapeutic Centers

Copyright � 1999-2007
ehc.com; All rights reserved.
Terms & Conditions of Use
Privacy Statement
Medical Center of Independence
17203 E. 23rd St.
Independence,� MO� 64057
Telephone: (816) 478-5000