Preventing Surgical Site Infections

A surgical site infection is something that can occur during any surgery and will happen in the particular place on the body that the surgery took place. This is not a common problem and on average up to five in every hundred surgeries will result in a surgical site infection.

An infection of this type is characterised by pain in the affected area and increasing redness. If you have noticed any fluid that has been drained from your surgical wound is of a cloudy colour then this is also a strong indicator that you are suffering from an infection.

Fortunately, most surgical site infections can be treated without too much difficulty. This treatment involves the use of antibiotics. The specific type of antibiotics required will depend on what type of bacteria has developed in order to cause the infection. It is also possible that surgery will be required in order to treat the infection if it has advanced to such a stage.

Preventing these infections is something that healthcare providers are obviously keen to do and practicing extensive hygiene is one way to try to do this. When a surgeon goes into surgery they will always try to clean their hands and arms properly with antiseptic. After surgery, during patient care, doctors will also be careful to wash their hands between each visit with each patient.

Body hair in the area where surgery is to be performed will be removed prior to surgery in order to help to lower the risk of infection. The area will be washed well so that as many germs as possible are cleansed away. Antibiotics will also be administered prior to the surgery, usually an hour or so beforehand, in order to minimise the risk of infection. It is also a well-known fact that people who smoke are at a higher risk of infection than those who don’t and not smoking before and after your surgery is always recommended. It is also important that anyone who visits you before and after your surgery clean their hands and make sure not to touch you unnecessarily.

The number of patients being allowed to go home soon after surgery has resulted in an increase in surgical site infections. This is because once the patient leaves the hospital they are exposed to higher amounts of germs and their hygiene is not being monitored.

Research is currently being conducted into the potential of small wireless sensors in orthopedic implants for the purpose of infection prevention. This involves a hydrogel used within the sensors which will detect the early signs of surgical infection. It is hoped that this new technology will prevent this problem from occuring as frequently, bringing relief to many hundreds of thousands of patients every year.