How to Tell if You Have an Infection After Surgery

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Diabetes Puts you at Greater Risk

If you or someone you love has had surgery recently, you know the recovery process can be painful. Invasive surgery (where an incision is present) is traumatic to the body and it takes time to heal completely. But you may not know what is normal post-surgery pain and what is something more.

What’s Normal and What’s Not?

Surgery is tough on the body, no doubt, and it’s not unusual to run a fever during the first 48 hours after a surgical procedure. Any fever that develops in the hours or days after a surgical procedure is considered a postoperative fever.

While a fever can be your body’s normal response to the physical trauma of surgery, it can also be a sign of something more serious: a Surgical Site Infection (SSI).

SSIs are fairly common, occurring in 2 to 5 percent¹ of surgeries involving incisions. That’s as many as 300,000 Americans per year. Rates of infection differ according to the type of surgery and most of those are staph infections. Texas Infectious Disease Institute, located just outside of Dallas in Richardson, TX, is a regional leader in treating these types of infections and is a Center for Surgical and Orthopedic Infectious Disease.

Diabetes and Surgical Site Infections

If you are a person with diabetes, everything from your nervous system to your digestive system is affected by the disease. Diabetes also directly influences the lymphatic system (home to your body’s disease-fighting mechanisms). High blood sugar also weakens the immune system, which means decreased white blood cells in your extremities.

What does all this have to do with SSIs? A lot. One study² sponsored by the American Diabetes Association indicates that people with diabetes are much more likely to develop an infection than people who do not have diabetes. For this reason, individuals with diabetes need to be acutely aware of the possibility of developing an infection at any time, but especially after surgery.

Working with an infectious disease specialist like Dr. Serge Lartchenko can help in identifying, managing and treating an infection related to diabetes. He has the experience and knowledge to know the best way to approach and eradicate diabetes-related infections, saving tissue and avoiding amputation.

What are the Most Common Infections for Diabetics?

There are two types of infections that affect diabetic patients more than the general population. They are:

Foot Infections. If you have diabetes, it is especially important to take good care of your feet. This type of infection accounts for many of the diabetic infections Dr. Lartchenko treats. Diabetic foot sores can continuously be aggravated by daily activities and become limb-threatening without proper treatment. Add to that the fact that diabetes causes nerve damage in the extremities (neuropathy), and some people don’t even realize they have a sore until it becomes severely infected.

Osteomyelitis (bone infection). This type of infection is not common, but it should be taken seriously when it occurs. Symptoms of osteomyelitis develop slowly, so the condition often goes unnoticed until it is severe. Bone infections can spread quickly, and if not treated effectively by an infectious disease expert like Dr. Lartchenko, may lead to major tissue loss or even amputation.

Treatment for both diabetic foot infections and osteomyelitis typically involves several weeks of regular antibiotic therapy in our comfortable onsite infusion center.

Why Choose Texas Infectious Disease Institute?

Dr. Lartchenko has the training and experience needed to treat the most complicated infections brought on by surgery or diabetes or a combination of the two. Our mix of expert diagnosis, intravenous treatments and antibiotic combination therapy make TIDI a premier choice for treatment of complicated infections. Many doctors and surgeons in the Dallas-Fort Worth area refer their patients to our Center for Surgical and Orthopedic Infectious Disease because they know we can help.

A Surgical Site Infection can make you very sick and, left untreated, will not resolve on its own. According to the U.S Department of Health and Human Services, without proper treatment, SSIs remain a significant cause of morbidity (level of health) and mortality (risk of death) after surgery. They are the leading cause of readmissions to the hospital following surgery, and approximately 3% of patients who contract an SSI will die as a consequence.

Don’t become a statistic. If you or someone you love has diabetes and is suffering from a surgical site infection, don’t wait. You’re in good hands at Texas Infectious Disease Institute. Dr. Lartchenko was recently recognized for the third year in a row as a “Best Doctor in Dallas” by D Magazine as a premier choice for infectious disease treatment. Trust your health to a proven expert. Schedule a confidential consultation with Dr. Lartchenko today.

At TIDI, we are taking every precaution during the COVID-19 health pandemic. More on our health and safety protocols here.

¹Loyola University Health System. “Surgical site infections are the most common and costly of hospital infections: Guidelines for preventing surgical site infections are updated.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 19 January 2017.
²American Diabetes Association. “Risk of Infection in Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes Compared With the General Population: A Matched Cohort Study” Diabetes Care 2018 Mar; 41(3): 513-521.