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Pre-op antibiotics can protect against surgical infections

Category: General Health

Even though surgeons exercise thorough caution to prevent infections that can result from surgery, sometimes their development is unavoidable. However, lab tests conducted at the Rambam Medical Center in Israel revealed the benefit of taking antibiotics before procedures in order to reduce the chance of SSIs, or surgical site infections.

Published in Infection Control and Hospital Epidemiology, a journal of the Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America, the study's researchers examined the effects of preoperative antibiotic prophylaxis in heart surgery patients. Their results discovered that taking antibiotics two hours before a procedure greatly decreased the risk of SSIs. Out of the 2,637 patients in the study, only around 8 percent developed an infection when given the drugs during the specified time frame, compared to the almost 14 percent of patients who developed an SSI when administered antibiotics outside of the two-hour window.

"Antimicrobial prophylaxis can reduce the risk of SSIs following many operations, however, that efficacy diminishes or disappears if antibiotics are given either too early or after incision. Despite the general acceptance of this concept in guidelines, wide variations in preoperative antibiotic administration practices have been reported," explained lead author Renato Finkelstein, M.D.

The team carried out a 10-year cohort study with the overall goal of making their new two-hour guideline a wide-reaching rule for all surgeons. They investigated the efficacy of preoperative antibiotics being used up to two hours before the first incision was made. Any antibiotics administered at a different time ranged from either three hours before or after surgery. By the near end of the experiment, the team also discovered that their idea of optimal protection had been adopted by nearly all the participants.

Preventing SSIs
While it is possible to treat surgical infections with dosages of antibiotics, there is the risk that a second surgery could be necessary to remove deeper infections. To decrease the likelihood of developing an SSI, there are some steps to take to prevent any risks of infection.

Patients should talk to their doctors about any additional medical problems they may have, including allergies to medications or diabetes. These kinds of conditions could negatively impact surgery and any postoperative treatment. Also, they should not shave the area that is being operated on, as razors can cause skin irritation that facilitates the development of infection.

After surgery, patients and their loved ones should take extra care in washing their hands and using hand sanitizer to kill germs. Additionally, patients can order online lab tests to identify any presence of bacteria in their systems.

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