Preventing infection after spinal surgery is very important. The information provided here will help answer some of the questions you may have but remember, your doctor is your best resource. Be sure to follow all the instructions you have been given and don’t hesitate to ask questions if you don’t understand something.
Even the small things can greatly improve your chances of not getting an infection after surgery. Here are some of the simple things you can do:
1. Wash your hands frequently
This is, by far, the most important thing you can do. Good hand washing requires lukewarm water and anti-bacterial soap and washing the hands need to be for about 30 seconds.
Washing hands frequently and properly is the greatest defense against infection, this also goes for anyone in your household that is helping you take care of your incision.
2. Take Your Antibiotics
Your doctor will give you antibiotics after surgery and how often you should take them. Antibiotics can help prevent infection so it’s wise to take them as your doctor prescribed.
3. Keep your Incision Clean
The incision after your surgery is like a magnet for infectious agents. Keep your wound dry and clean as much as possible or as advised by your doctor. One of the best ways to keep your wound clean is by taking a shower and cleaning the wound with soap (mildly antibacterial). Make sure that you rinse well. Remember to let your incision dry off completely before covering it with a clean bandage.
4. Wash Hands When Taking Care of the Wound
Again, washing the hands are is the most important step to take to ensure you don’t get an infection after a surgery. This also goes for anyone else who’s helping you clean your wound.
5. Quit Smoking
Research has proven that smokers are more prone to an infection after getting a surgery, and it has been shown that smokers are up to 6 times at greater risk of ending up with an infection compared to non-smokers. Apart from that, they also heal more slowly and gets more scarring.
Recovering From Spinal Surgery
After surgery, your surgeon will probably provide you with specific instructions about activities, exercises, and therapy. You will also be instructed in taking care of your incisions or wounds and preventing infection after spinal surgery. Depending on your procedure or surgery, you might be encouraged to be up out of bed, standing and walking soon after your operation. You may be provided with an assistive device such as a cane, walker or crutches. Your physician may also order physical therapy to help you with a specific program of therapeutic exercises.
The success rate for spinal surgery is very high, but, as with any surgical procedure, there is a possibility of complications developing. One potential complication is the development of an infection in the wound or incision, or in the tissues around the prosthetic device (implant). An infection can develop after you go home or while you’re still a patient in the hospital so preventing infection after spinal surgery is critical to your successful recovery.
Minor wound infections are often successfully treated with antibiotics. More severe infections may cause the implant to dislodge and become very painful. This may lead to the need for additional surgery. It is good to know that preventing infection after spinal surgery is possible most of the time.
Helping to Prevent Infection
Treating a Spinal Surgery Infection
When measure taken for preventing infection after spinal surgery are unsuccessful and infections develop within the first several weeks or few months after spinal surgery, intravenous antibiotics are often successful in treating them. Sometimes it is also necessary to surgically irrigate or flush the implant. If an infection develops several months or even years after surgery, treatment is more challenging and requires long-term treatment with IV (intravenous) antibiotics and blood tests to ensure the infection is completely resolved. When the infection is thoroughly cleared, another surgery may be recommended for preventing infection after spinal surgery from reoccurring.
If you have questions or concerns about preventing infection after spinal surgery or about caring for your incision or wound, be sure to talk to your physician.