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Types Of Surgical Infections

Feb 18, 2008
One would think that a hospital is a place that should be virtually guaranteed to be a sterile environment. Because so many various bacteria are present in a hospital environment, it can leave patients and the staff at risk for developing a myriad of infections. No where is this more evident than in the statistics of surgical patients developing a post operative infection.

Nosocomial Infections

This is the term that is used for any infection that is a result of your treatment in a clinic or hospital that is secondary to your initial condition. You are considered to have a nosocomial infection if you develop an infection within approximately forty eight hours after your procedure or if you develop one thirty days after your discharge date. Some statistics say that at least 75% of this type of infection occurs in patients admitted to the hospital for a surgical procedure.

Where Do Surgical Infections Occur?

Though you can develop an infection in any part of your body, the commonest areas that infection are found in the urinary tract, said to be 40%, your respiratory tract, said to be 15% and bacteraemia, said to be 5%. Bacteraemia is when bacteria are able to get into your bloodstream. It is also known as septicemia.

Why Do Surgical Patients Develop Infections?

Everyone has natural occurring bacteria in and on their body. This is considered your normal body flora. You have bacteria living on your skin, in the oral and nasal cavities, the urinary tract and the large bowel. It is thought that most patients that develop a nosocomial infection do so from their own flora.

Infection from Wound Contamination

Some patients develop post operative infections because their surgical incision or the wound is contaminated. This is often referred to as a surgical site infection. This can happen in a number of ways. The wound can be contaminated by the patient's own flora or the surgeon's hands can carry infection if they are not properly washed and sterilized. The instruments or the dressings that are used during the procedure may also be the source for infectious bacteria, as well as IV lines, catheters and drains.

Airborne Post Surgical Infection Sources

You can develop an infection after surgery from bacteria that is airborne. This can come from the air flow to vents that are present in the operating room or where the procedure is performed. You can also develop an infection following surgery because of bacteria that is introduced into the environment that travels into the hospital via the staff's as well as any visitor's clothing and shoes.

Surgical Infections and Diabetes

Those with diabetes are at a higher risk than most patients for developing an infection after having surgery. Monitoring the levels of a surgical patient's blood glucose is of vital importance when that person also has diabetes. There has been much research done showing how levels of elevated blood sugar can put a patient at a higher risk of developing a post surgical infection.

What Types of Bacteria are most common in Surgical Infections?

Streptococcus pyogenes or. S.pyogenes is responsible for many diseases in humans. They can develop as a mild infection that is topical or they can cause a systematic disease that can sometimes be life threatening. Examples of S.pyogenes infections are impetigo which usually affects an area of skin and pharyngitis more commonly known as strep throat. These two conditions would be considered mild.

Staphylococcus auerus is also referred to as golden staph and can literally be translated to mean "Golden Cluster Seed." This bacterium commonly lives in a person's nose or on the skin. Staph infections can cause minor infections such as carbuncles, boils and pimples or it can cause serious infections such as meningitis, septicemia or pneumonia.

How to Avoid Developing an Infection after Surgery

Prevention is the best way you can avoid developing a post surgical infection. If you are concerned about this happening, speak to your doctor about his surgical techniques. Check with the hospital about their practices of sterilizing and preparing their operating rooms. You can also find information online that may give you an idea of the statistics for a particular health care facility for patients that develop infections after surgery in their clinical setting.
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