Despite how cautious doctors and surgical teams are during procedures, any surgery that requires breaking the skin has a chance of leading to infection. However, the risk of developing a surgical site infection is very low – about 1 to 3 percent, according to John Hopkins Medicine. Still, it is the most common hospital-acquired infection, as noted by Wound Source.

Here’s your quick guide to surgical site infections:

surgerySurgical site infections can form after procedures.


These infections occur at or near the point of incision within 30 days of the procedure. They can lead to prolonged hospital stays, readmissions, additional operations and increased medical costs. There are three types of surgical site infections:

1. Superficial

Doctors classify surgical site infections as superficial when they occur in the area of the skin where the incision was made. According to Wound Source, these infections often show drainage from the incision and at least one sign of infection, such as pain, swelling or warmth.

2. Deep incisional

When the infection develops beneath the incision area and affects the surrounding muscle and tissue, it’s called a deep incisional surgical site infection. The affected area may produce pus and the wound site may reopen.

3. Organ/space

This type of surgical site infection develops in a body organ or in the space between organs rather than in the skin, muscle or tissue. Excess drainage may form an abscess post-surgery, which indicates the presence of an organ or space surgical site infection.


Surgical site infections develop when germs contaminate the surgical wound. Contact with unclean hands, surgical tools and air may introduce germs to the site, or germs may spread from different areas of the body.


Never touch a surgical wound without washing your hands beforehand. Additionally, John Hopkins advises patients to avoid shaving the location on your body where the surgery will take place. Certain medical conditions, such as diabetes or chronic illness, can also increase patient risk of developing surgical site infections. Be sure to share your medical history with the surgical team and discuss potential ways to reduce your risk. If you notice any signs of infection after surgery, such as fever, pus, redness, pain or tenderness, see your doctor for a wound assessment.


Surgical site infection treatment usually involves antibiotics, but may also require additional operations depending on the type and severity. Your doctors will recommend the appropriate treatment plan, including proper dressing changes. Talk to them about smartPAC by Advanced Tissue for smart delivery of the wound care supplies you need to follow the road to recovery.