How to Reduce Your Risk of Infection After Prostate Surgery

Patients can opt for prostate surgery for many reasons. But, problems after prostate surgery can happen. 

Like any surgery, prostate surgery comes with side effects, such as a surgical site infection (SSI) or other complications. That’s because this abdominal surgery could damage the muscles and nerves in the lower body. 

Here, we will focus on postoperative surgical site infection. And the symptoms that come with it. 

How Likely Is Infection After Prostate Surgery?

Around 750,000 and 1,000,000 surgical site infections happen in the US annually. They cause an additional 3.7 million hospital days and cost over $1.6 billion in excess charges. 

Over 10 million patients undergo surgery for various procedures every year. Surgeries account for more than one-fourth of all hospital stays. Surgical site infection (SSI) happens close to or at the surgical incision within 30 days of the surgery. 

Roughly 2% to 4% of patients who get inpatient surgery develop a surgical site infection. We can treat the infection with antibiotic therapy, but it remains a cause of mortality and morbidity after the procedure.

An infection after surgery is the number one cause of hospital readmissions.

Risk factors for surgical infection

  • Patient predisposition – such as malnutrition, diabetes, smoking, and old age. Other problems can also be common risk factors for postoperative SSI. This includes blood transfusion after heavy blood loss, shock, trauma, hypothermia, high blood glucose, and hypoxia.

  • Surgery-specific risk factors – skin infection could happen to surgical patients during emergency surgery, especially if the surgical wound was exposed to bacteria. The prolonged contamination can affect the infection rate.

To take a closer look at the odds of infection after surgery for benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), scientists studied 70 patients. Each patient received BPH surgery, 80% of which had open surgery. 

Based on the reports, site infection occurred in 18% of patients. The type of antiseptic they used didn’t affect their site infection risk. The most fundamental of all risk factors was the use of a urinary catheter before surgery. 

Many studies show the odds of complications from radical prostatectomy increase with age. Experts evaluated over 11,500 American men who had a radical prostatectomy. Roughly 28% of patients between 65 and 69 years experienced at least a single postoperative complication. For 35% of men older than 75, post-surgical complications developed. 

How to Reduce the Risk of Infection After Prostate Surgery

Bacteria and germs are everywhere. These germs can be airborne, on the skin, or on items and products you touched. A postoperative infection happens when harmful germs enter the body through the incision site. 

Anyone can develop a site infection. But, the risk is much higher if you are a smoker, overweight, or lack proper nutrition. If you have any allergies, talk to your doctor beforehand. Also, avoid shaving the area where you will get surgery. Shaving with a razor can cause irritation and make you prone to infection. 

The cornerstone of decreasing the risk of infection is using an exquisite surgical technique. This includes proper and on-time antimicrobial prophylaxis and efficient skin antisepsis. All while promoting faster wound healing.

People can take prophylactic antibiotics to prevent an infection. Doctors often prescribe antibiotic prophylaxis, like gentamicin, vancomycin, and cefazolin. A patient who can’t take the oral medication can receive an IV (intravenous) infusion or IM (intramuscular) shot.

Give your urinary tract time to recover. After having prostate surgery, you would need to take good care of the surgical site. Make sure you know the ins and outs of wound care before leaving the hospital. To prevent wound infection, change the dressing daily or immediately after it gets soiled. Ask your doctor when you shouldn’t cover the incision area. 

Keep the surgical site clean by washing it with water and mild soap. This helps prevent wound infection. If glue, staples, or sutures close the skin, then you can take a shower. Use plastic wrap to cover the incision. Avoid soaking in water while wearing a catheter to prevent superficial wound infection. You can take baths and go swimming when your doctor gives you the green light. 

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Signs of Infection to Look Out For

SSIs on the surgical site can cause pain, swelling, redness, and delayed healing. It is not uncommon for those affected to experience fever, warmth, and tenderness after developing a postoperative wound infection. But, the severity and impact of the surgical wound infection vary based on the type of problem you are dealing with. 

SSI is classified as:

  • Deep infection – could create pus. When the affected area opens on its own or a surgeon reopens it, the wound can be covered with pus. The infection occurs under the incision in the tissues or muscles around it. 

  • Superficial incisional SSI – the wound site also produces pus. The infection appears only in the area where the surgeon made the incision. The doctor then takes a sample to identify what’s causing the wound infection.  

  • Organ/space SSI – there is inflammation around disintegrating tissue and pus. The infection can happen in any spot of the body. That includes organs and the area between them.   

When Should I Call A Doctor?

Contact your doctor right away if you see any signs of infection after surgery, like aches, redness, fever, or drainage. Antibiotic therapy is the best way to establish infection control, including regular dressing changes and proper hygiene. 

In the first couple of weeks, your doctor will suggest that you monitor the wound regularly. So, even if a problem occurs, you can react on time. If the infection is severe, you might need additional procedures or surgery. An infection of the urinary tract can become sepsis

That means it spread to different areas of the body. If you ignore it for too long, it can reduce blood pressure and damage the organs. Also, prostate surgery is not the only thing that could lead to site infection. Other surgeries can also have similar complications, particularly spinal surgery, cardiac surgery, colorectal surgery, and knee replacement. 

Your doctor can help you reduce the risk of a possible bone infection. The rate of SSIs after spine surgery is anywhere from 0.5% to 18.8%. Only your doctor can suggest the best antibiotic to alleviate the symptoms. 

Another thing to have in mind is Staph infection. Caused by staphylococcus aureus, staph can easily spread through abrasions and cuts. They tend to disappear on their own. However, at times, they too require antibiotic treatment. Unfortunately, the staph bacteria can lead to an MRSA infection, which is resistant to many antibiotics. A doctor can help keep the health issue in check.

Conclusion

Many people who recently had prostate surgery are worried about developing an infection. This typical complication will require some effort to manage and will delay the healing process. What you can do is use proper medicine and book a doctor’s appointment when necessary. 

Remember, infections will hinder the recovery process. But that doesn’t mean they should always be a serious problem. Adequate treatment will keep the symptoms at bay. Proper hygiene can help you reduce the odds of developing it.

The goal is to recover from the surgery as soon as possible. That way, you can reduce the possibility of scarring. If you develop SSI symptoms, contact a specialist. They can advise you on the best treatment strategy you can use. 

Next Up

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Find out more information about Recovery After Prostate Surgery.

Sources

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  6. Crader MF, Varacallo M. Preoperative Antibiotic Prophylaxis. [Updated 2021 Jul 18]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2021. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK442032/
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Alternative Text

Dr. Ahmed Zayed

Dr. Ahmed Zayed holds a baccalaureate of Medicine and Surgery. He has completed his degree at the University of Alexandria, Egypt. Founder of ZayedMD, Dr. Ahmed believes in making the knowledge as accessible as possible to patients. He had his work featured in reputable publications such as The Huffington Post. Other than his passion for writing, Dr. Ahmed spends​ his time outside the hospital at the gym or with a good book.

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