Category: Spine | Author: Stefano Sinicropi | Date: April 2, 2018
Spinal surgeons do a great job at preventing spinal infections from disrupting an operation or your rehab process, but even the best surgeons in the world can’t prevent infections from developing every single time. A lot of times people assume that whether or not a person gets an infection solely depends on whether or not foreign bodies are introduced when the surgery is being performed, but that’s not the case. The patient also plays a big role in preventing infections from developing during or after surgery. Below, we explain how you and your surgeon can work together to prevent infections from developing before and after spine surgery.
Preventing Infections Before Spine Surgery
If you want to do everything in your power to reduce your likelihood of developing an infection after surgery, you have to put in the work before you go under the knife. The healthier you are before surgery, the less likely you will be to develop an infection after spine surgery. Some things you can do to help reduce your risk of an infection before surgery include:
- Reduce, or better yet, give up smoking, as it inhibits healthy blood flow to crucial structures while your body is recovering from surgery.
- Let your surgeon know of any medical issues you have. Even if you think your diabetes or sleep apnea are clearly documented in your medical history, bring these to the attention of your doctor and be very cognizant of your blood sugar levels in the days and weeks leading up to your operation.
- Improve your diet. Getting a healthy range of vitamins and nutrients leading up to surgery can help ward off infections when you body is in a weakened state after surgery.
- Shower before surgery. Double check with your surgeon prior to the procedure, but most times your medical team will want you to be showered and cleaned with antibacterial soap prior to the operation to better reduce the likelihood of an infection.
Preventing Infections After Spine Surgery
Preventing spinal infections doesn’t end once the surgeon has closed the last suture. You have to be diligent about keeping the surgical site clean, or else you’re at risk for infection. Preventing infection risk after an operation involves:
- Continuing to practice the healthy habits listed above, like avoiding smoking and eating a healthy diet.
- Ensuring friends and family wash and disinfect their hands before visiting you.
- Ensure you understand the wound cleaning guidelines laid forth by your medical team so you don’t accidentally introduce bacteria to the site.
- Regularly wash your hands and keep your body as clean as possible while recovering.
- Regularly change your dressing as advised by your surgeon.
- Call your medical team at the first sign of an infection (drainage, discolored discharge, odor, etc.)
Dr. Sinicropi does everything in his power to prevent surgical infections, but he can’t do it alone. For more information on how to prevent spinal infections after surgery, reach out to his office today.