Understanding the Three Types of Surgical Site Infections

Jan 12, 2024
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When you have any type of surgery, the open skin around your surgical site has the potential to become infected because it’s exposed to outside germs. In this month’s blog, we discuss the three types of surgical site infections and how to spot them.

One of the best barriers against infection is your skin. It protects you from germs and bacteria being able to enter your bloodstream and infect your body. 

Even with all the right protocols in place, surgery that breaks the skin barrier already puts you at risk for infection. Those infections that originate where your skin breaks at your surgical site are known as surgical site infections (SSIs).

If left untreated, SSIs can lead to serious complications and even further surgeries. That’s why our team, led by infectious disease specialist Serge Lartchenko, MD, at the Texas Infectious Disease Institute in Richardson, Texas, wants you to know all about the three types of SSIs so you can be on the lookout for them after your surgery.

Types of SSIs

SSIs are most commonly caused by the bacteria Staphylococcus, Streptococcus, and Pseudomonas. They can lead to any of these SSIs if they’re able to enter the wound through any type of contact:

1. Superficial incisional SSI

This SSI occurs only around the area of skin where the incision was made. The incision site will likely leak pus and a sample of the pus needs to be taken in order to determine what kind of bacterium is causing the infection. 

You can also have symptoms such as fever, redness, delayed healing, warmth, and swelling.

2. Deep incisional SSI

Deep incisional SSIs develop deep under the surgical site in layers of muscle and tissues. In addition to fever, redness, andswelling, the surgical site may reopen on its own and/or you may see pus seeping from the incision area. We may have to open the wound further to collect the pus for a sample.

3. Organ or space SSI

This type of infection can take place in any part of the body that’s not your skin, muscle, or surrounding tissue. It usually happens deep in an organ or the space between organs. You may have all the above listed infection symptoms along with an abscess of pus and disintegrating tissue.

Getting treated for your surgical site infection

SSIs require meticulous care, and Dr. Lartchenko has years of training and expertise when it comes to diagnosing and treating these infections.

At the Texas Infectious Disease Institute, we can offer all the medication you need for treating SSIs. We typically start with antibiotics and they may be delivered intravenously or orally, or with combination therapy. 

If you notice any signs of an infection around your surgical site, contact our team right away for prompt and proper treatment. You can set up an appointment by giving us a call at 469-960-4413 or by using our online scheduler today.