DESCRIPTIONA surgical-wound infection is from bacterial contamination during or after a surgical procedure. Infections occur following surgery in 1.5% to 30% of cases, depending on the type of procedure. Any body part with a recent surgical incision can be involved.
Appropriate health care includes:
Physician's monitoring of general condition and medications.
Surgery to incise and drain a wound abscess.
Self-care during convalescence.
SIGNS & SYMPTOMSFever.
Pain and redness around the surgical wound.
Edema (collection of fluid) around the incision, making the sutures tighter.
The following usually begin within 5 to 10 days after your child's surgery, but in some cases, they may begin months later:
CAUSESInfection with bacteria, including streptococcal, staphylococcal, or other germs. These sometimes cause infection in spite of elaborate precautions against them and scrupulous surgical technique. They occur most often in children (and adults) who must have emergency surgery on the gastrointestinal tract, such as for perforation of an ulcer or intestinal bleeding.
Infection from any material left in the surgical area, including instruments or gauze.
RISK FACTORSPoor nutrition.
Any chronic illness, especially diabetes mellitus.
Use of immunosuppressive drugs.
PREVENTING COMPLICATIONS OR RECURRENCESkillful surgical techniques and presurgical procedures that include the following:
Use of certain antibiotics, such as neomycin, before gastrointestinal surgery, to sterilize the child's intestinal tract.
Meticulous cleansing of the child's skin before surgery.
Use of as few sutures as possible.
Your own observation of symptoms.
Medical history and physical exam by a doctor.
Laboratory culture of pus from the infection site.
Interference with normal incision healing after surgery, sometimes necessitating further surgery and repairs.
Usually curable in most patients with drainage of pus and antibiotic treatment. Allow about 2 weeks for your child's surgical-wound infection to heal.
Relieve pain with heat. Use a heat lamp or apply a heating pad or warm compress 3 or 4 times a day for 30 to 40 minutes.
Change dressings frequently if the wound oozes.
MEDICATIONAntibiotics to fight infection.
Vitamin and mineral supplements to hasten healing.
Pain relievers. Use non-prescription drugs, such as acetaminophen, to relieve minor pain.
See Medications section for information regarding medicines your doctor may prescribe.
Your doctor may prescribe:
Your child should rest in bed until all signs of infection disappear. The child may read or watch TV.
DIET & FLUIDS
Your surgeon will prescribe a diet for your child.
OK TO GO TO SCHOOL?When signs of infection have decreased, appetite returns, and alertness, strength, and feeling of well-being will allow.
CALL YOUR DOCTOR IF
Your child has symptoms of a surgical-wound infection.
Your child develops a high fever and a general ill feeling, or infection seems to worsen after treatment.
New, unexplained symptoms develop. Drugs used in treatment may produce side effects.