Your doctor has provided this information to answer some of the questions you may have about the importance of preventing infection after your spinal surgery. It will also help you better understand what to do if you develop an infection and require medical treatment.
Recovering From Spinal Surgery
After your operation, your orthopaedic physician will likely give you specific instructions on movement, exercising and wound care. Depending on your operation, you may be encouraged to stand, even walk, very soon after surgery. Your doctor may provide you with a walker, cane or crutch. Your doctor may also prescribe a course of physical therapy, so that a trained healthcare provider can guide you through specific therapeutic movements.
Spinal surgery has a very high success rate, but, as with any surgery, there are possible complications associated with it. Among them, infection may occur in the wound, or even around the implant itself (prosthesis). Infection can set in while you’re in the hospital or after you go home. Minor infections of the wound are often treated successfully with antibiotics. A deeper infection may cause the implant to loosen, become painful and require additional surgery. The good news is that most infections are preventable.
Helping to Prevent Infection
Before and during your spinal surgery, your doctor will take measures to reduce the risk of bacterial infection. You may be given a preventative antibiotic right before, and for a short time after, your surgery. Your doctor will also recommend that you take antibiotics before you have any invasive procedure or test (like a colonoscopy or dental work). Because you now have an implant, it may give bacteria a place to hide from your body’s natural immune response, increasing your risk of infection. A preventative course of antibiotics will help to reduce that risk.
Treating a Spinal Surgery
Infection People who develop infections within the first few months of spinal surgery are often treated successfully with intravenous antibiotics and a surgical technique that washes the infected implant. People who develop infections months or years after the operation appear to face more challenging treatment and longer-term intravenous antibiotics. Careful blood monitoring helps to determine when the infection is thoroughly cleared. A new operation may be considered at that time.
If you have any questions about caring for your wound site or preventing infection in your spinal surgery, be sure to talk with your doctor.