A hernia is a weakness in the lower front abdominal wall that lets the bowel covering fall through the wall. Internal structures can sometimes slide through this opening, and organs such as bowel, bladder and ovaries can be affected. Hernia surgery is done to correct or prevent the sliding of internal organs outside the body. If surgery is not performed and organs are allowed to become trapped outside the body, they can become twisted, which can cut off their blood supply. Surgery to repair a hernia usually requires a hospital stay of less than 24 hours, and the recovery period is short, but there are possible infections that can occur post-surgery if one is not careful about hygiene and proper post-surgical procedures.
The bacteria that is normally present on the skin is typically harmless, because the skin acts as a barrier. When the skin is broken, as in hernia surgery, it allows bacteria to enter the body through the incision. Once inside, bacteria are in the perfect breeding grounds and begin to multiply quickly.
As with any surgery, hernia surgery patients are at a slight risk for infection. Most infections are mild and are easily diagnosed and treated. Some are more serious and require more direct medical attention, sometimes even making it necessary to perform further surgery, though this is rare. Be sure to report any discomfort or pain to your doctor immediately to speed along the diagnosis of an infection after a hernia surgery.
Common symptoms of hernia infection are tenderness at the surgery site, pain, and skin that is red and warm to the touch. Symptoms of a more serious infection include a skin abscess, pus coming from the incision, a deeper reddening of the skin known as cellulitis, pain and swelling, red streaks traveling away from the incision, nausea and fever.
When there is fever present, diagnosing an infection after hernia surgery is done by collecting blood to be examined in the laboratory for an increase in white blood cells and certain bacteria.
Infections require immediate treatment and include surgical site cleansing and administering antibiotics for the infection. Sometimes more surgery may be necessary to clean the incision of infected tissue. If an abscess is present, it may be necessary to incise and insert a drain to carray away pus.