Postoperative fever is one of the most common complications following major surgeries. There are many reasons why it happens. Some of them are:
1) The patient was not properly prepared for the operation.
They did not have enough time to prepare adequately or they were under stress due to other events during their life.
2) They had poor general health before surgery and/or their immune system was weak (due to cancer treatment, HIV infection etc.
3) Their body’s natural defenses against infections were weakened or destroyed by chemotherapy drugs used in chemo.
4) They had an allergic reaction to some medication or a surgical site infection caused by the surgeon.
5) Other factors such as diabetes, obesity, smoking, alcohol abuse, stress and depression may all cause postoperative fever.
The symptoms of postoperative fever are very varied. Most patients experience fatigue and headache.
Some also feel dizzy or lightheaded. Others may feel nauseated or vomit. This can be either because of the fever itself or a sign that your surgeon has left something inside you.
Why is postoperative fever not treated?
If you experience fevers following surgery, do not panic. Many patients experience this and it does not necessarily mean something is wrong. If your temperature is more than 1.5 degrees above the highest normal temperature you have experienced then you should see your doctor. Your surgeon might not treat it because he or she does not want to add unnecessary expense to their bill. Instead, however, they may ask you to adjust your medicine intake so that your fever will go down.
How to manage fever after surgery?
1) Get plenty of rest and sleep after the procedure.
2) Eat healthy to ensure your body receives all the nutrients it needs to fight infection.
3) Take pain medicines only as directed.
Avoid alcohol and street drugs.
4) Drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration.
Dehydration can worsen your fever and cause other complications.
5) Do not smoke.
Nicotine can lower your body’s ability to fight infection.
6) Take a cool bath to bring down your temperature.
Wearing light clothes instead of thick ones can also help.
7) Do not worry.
Most fevers go away within two weeks following surgery.
8) Get a throat swab or blood test if your doctor thinks you may have an infection.
A rapid strep test can be done to see if you have an active infection of group A Streptococcus bacteria (i.e.
9) See your surgeon if the fever does not go away within two weeks.
Does your doctor need to see me if I have a fever after surgery?
Most surgeons will only make an appointment to see you if the fever is very high, 101 degrees or higher, or if it has lasted for more than two weeks. If this is the case with you then do not panic. Usually, these fevers are caused by a minor infection in the surgical incision site and are easily treated with antibiotics. Your surgeon will most likely prescribe Clindamycin and tell you to return only if the medicine does not work.
How do I prevent fevers after surgery?
There are several steps you can take before and after the procedure to decrease your chances of a fever:
1) Eat healthy foods, avoid junk food and eat a balanced diet in the weeks leading up to surgery.
Do not overeat or undereat.
2) Do not drink alcohol in the week before surgery, because it can affect your blood’s ability to clot.
3) Arrange for a friend or family member to pick up your prescription medications after surgery.
This will ensure that you do not miss a dose.
4) Avoid smoking and second-hand smoke after surgery, because it can also affect your blood’s ability to clot.
5) Do not put anything in your mouth until your incision site has healed.
Even after it has healed, be careful what you stick in your mouth. Uncooked meat can carry bacteria that can get into your blood, so be careful when eating hot dogs and other foods.
6) If you feel a noticeable lump in your incision site, let your doctor know right away.
Lumps after surgery are not normal and could indicate an infection or another problem.
7) Drink a lot of fluids after surgery to avoid dehydration.
How can I take care of my surgical incision site to avoid a fever?
Follow your doctor’s orders for incision care, but most importantly keep the area clean and dry. You’ll need to change the bandage at least once a day, or more often if it gets wet. According to MedlinePlus, you should also keep the wound covered with a dry, clean bandage until it heals. A cotton ball or pad soaked with alcohol can help keep the bandage dry. Be careful not to let the incision site get wet, such as by taking showers, baths, swimming, or even working out at a gym or fitness center.
What if my incision is leaking clear fluid?
If you see clear fluid leaking from the incision site, known as serosanguineous drainage, this is a good sign because it means that your body is fighting off infection. It is important that you continue to change your bandages regularly and monitor the wound for signs of infection. Make sure to contact your doctor if the wound begins to smell bad or get redness around it.
What if my incision is leaking yellow fluid?
If your incision is leaking yellow or green fluid, this can be a sign of an infection and you should seek medical attention immediately. Yellow and green fluid is known as seropurulent drainage and can be a sign of an infection in the incision site. This could be caused by bacteria entering the bloodstream through the wound, so immediate attention is needed if you notice this happening.
How do I prevent Incision site infections?
Always keep the incision site clean and dry. This includes keeping it covered with a bandage unless you are cleaning it or working with your doctor to allow it to heal. You should also avoid going to the swimming pool, gym, or other public areas with wet floors.
What is an abscess?
An abscess is a collection of pus that has built up in the skin or other tissues. It can cause redness, swelling, and pain around the site of the incision. Although it can look alarming, it’s not usually serious and can be treated at home. You can help relieve the swelling and pain by soaking in a warm bath several times a day. Let your doctor know right away if you notice an abscess because it can be a sign of an infection that may require antibiotics.
What is dry socket?
Dry socket, also known as alveolar osteitis, occurs when the blood clot supporting your tooth is lost, leaving the bone exposed to the mouth. This can cause pain and is treated by re-implanting the tooth.
What is a fever?
A fever is when your body temperature rises to a level higher than normal. Fevers typically occur due to illness, such as an infection or the common cold. It’s important to speak with your doctor if you’re experiencing a fever because it can affect how your body reacts to anesthesia.
How do I treat a fever?
Your doctor will determine the underlying cause of your fever and prescribe medication to treat it. For minor fevers, you can take over-the-counter medications such as acetaminophen (Tylenol). Be sure to check with your doctor before taking any medication.
What if I have a fever after surgery?
You may have an infection. Let your doctor know immediately and they will perform tests to determine the cause. You may need to stay in the hospital longer or take antibiotics.
Am I allowed to drive?
If you are experiencing pain, you should not be driving because you can’t concentrate on the road. It is also recommended that you do not drive until your doctor says it’s okay. Your doctor may request that you not drive for a specific amount of time after your surgery because certain types of surgery can make you tired. Be sure to ask your doctor when you can expect to wake up from your surgery and drive again.
How long will I be in pain after surgery?
You may experience some pain after surgery, which can be managed with medication prescribed by your doctor. The amount of pain you experience after surgery depends on the type of procedure. If you experience a lot of pain or if the medication isn’t working for you, let your doctor know.
When can I exercise again?
Your doctor will let you know if you need to wait before starting a new exercise routine. In some cases, your doctor may refer you to a cardiologist before resuming an exercise routine. If your doctor gives the okay to resume exercise, start slowly and listen to your body. If you feel any pain during or after exercising, stop and contact your doctor immediately.
Where can I get more information about my surgery?
Your doctor will be able to answer any additional questions you have about your surgery. We also recommend that you talk with a cardiologist before deciding on a surgery to learn about the risks and benefits. You can find a list of cardiologists near you at GetTapped.org.
Are there any support groups I can join?
Support groups can help you connect with others who have experienced what you’re experiencing now. You can find a list of support groups near you at GetTapped.org.
What if I’m not sure which surgery is right for me?
Your cardiologist can help you determine which surgery is best for your situation. The most common surgeries are Valve Replacement and Valve Repair. Your doctor will be able to explain the differences and help you decide which one would be most effective depending on your medical history.
What if I have additional questions about my surgery?
You can contact GetTapped to speak with a nurse 24/7 at 1-844-GET-TAPPED. Your doctor will also be able to answer any questions you have before and after your procedure.
This content was created with information obtained from the American Heart Association, which takes responsibility for its content.heart.org.
Sources & references used in this article:
Association between postoperative fever and atelectasis in pediatric patients by JM Kane, M Friedman, JB Mitchell… – World Journal for …, 2011 – journals.sagepub.com
Blood cultures for assessment of postoperative fever in arthroplasty patients by P Vijaysegaran, SA Coulter, C Coulter… – The Journal of …, 2012 – Elsevier
WHAT DOES POSTOPERATIVE FEVER MEAN? by RA Tessler, AH Harken – Abernathy’s Surgical Secrets E-Book, 2017 – books.google.com
Post-operative fever in orthopaedic surgery: How effective is the ‘fever workup?’ by B Ashley, DA Spiegel, P Cahill… – Journal of …, 2017 – journals.sagepub.com
Should we measure body temperature for patients who have recently undergone surgery? by EP Dellinger – 2005 – academic.oup.com
Late results following esophagomyotomy in children with achalasia by DW Vane, K Cosby, K West, JL Grosfeld – Journal of pediatric surgery, 1988 – Elsevier
Febrile response following megaprosthesis replacement for primary bone sarcoma by W Kim, I Han, SA Lee, HS Cho, HS Kim – Orthopedics, 2013 – healio.com