What Are the Signs That a Surgical Incision Is Infected?

Symptoms of a surgical site infection include fever, an increasing amount of yellow or green discharge from the site, a change in the odor of the discharge or a change in the size of the incision. A patient with an infected surgical site may experience bleeding from the incision site, hardening or redness in the surrounding areas and increasing pain.

Postoperative skin infections, particularly in the area where the surgeons made an incision, are referred to as surgical site infections or SSIs. Patients who have undergone some form of surgical procedure have a 1 to 3 percent chance of developing an SSI, which may occur within 30 days after the procedure.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention classifies SSIs into three categories: superficial incisional SSIs, deep incisional SSIs and organ or space SSIs. Superficial incisional SSIs occur on the area where the incision is made, while deep incisional SSIs occurs beneath the area where the incision was made. Organ or Space SSI can happen anywhere in the body apart from the muscle tissue or fascia, such as an organ or the space between the organs.

Common risk factors that increases a patient's chances of developing SSIs include surgical procedures that lasts for more than two hours, diabetes, medical conditions that compromise the immune system response, obesity and smoking.