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Infection 14 weeks post-op?

inafixiinafix Posts: 158
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:24 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
Long story short I had MRIs w/wo contrast and a CT on Friday. Today I went to pick up my disk and there was a written report (first EVER in over 2 years of back issues) according to the RAD report I *may* have and infection at the L4/L5. A copy of the report has been sent marked STAT to my NS and I have already put a call into his office to find out what is going on. Waiting for a call back. I knew I had back-slid and feel worse but I was not expecting to hear this news. IF I do have an infection what would the next step be? How serious is this? Would I possibly need another surgery or might antibiotics work?

Like I said I am waiting for my NS office to return my call but I am very nervous about all this. I knew something was off.



  • I cannot offer you medical advice, because I am not a doctor. But, I know that there have been documented cases of infection after this type of surgery and antibiotics have been used to treat them.

    One Love,

  • Hi Kelly, I know you are feeling the stress right now, and I am so sorry you are having to go through that. Just when you think you are in the clear then something else comes up. Well you know they are always saying that the surgeons often interpret the films different than the radiologists, so I will hope and pray for you that this is the case, and there is no infection. It does sound like the radiologist wasn't certain of an infection, so lets hope for the best. Have you had a fever, chills, redness, etc.? Let us know when you hear something. >:D< Sue
  • I am sorry that you are going through this. I know how scarry it is. >:D< I had an infection after my laminectomy. I am guessing that they will probably have you get blood work done to confirm whether your white blood cell count and SED rate are high. (This confirmed the infection for me.) Then they would probably put you on some form of antibiotics.

    For me, they were going to do IV antibiotics, but they couldn't get a pic line in me (bad veins) to deliver the antibiotics, so they put me on a very powerful pill antibiotic called Xyvox. So, taking the antibiotics was nothing big for me. The worst part of the infection was that I had imense pain. It is definately what I base my lvl 10 pain off of now.

    But, if it is an infection it is good that they are catching it sooner rather than later. Hopefully you will be fine. Hang in there.

  • Thanks for the input guys. My NS office just called and they are sending me to the hospital tomorrow morning for the SED rate blood test. I'm glad I went in and got the films today, I'm not so sure they caught the STAT fax from last week..?? So thanks Julie looks like they are at least being cautious. I didn't want to overreact but I didn't want to under react either ya know. Hopefully it wont be a big deal to get it cleared up IF there is one. I told my NS when I saw him on the 6th that I was hurting more and more. That was what prompted him to have the new MRIs. My pain levels have shot way up these last couple of weeks. No sign of fever though and my incision looks fine to me. I don't know. There are other issues on the report but my priority was the possibility of infection.
  • I truly,truly hope that it's not an infection.I had one at the same level.The evil pain started exactly 9 months ago. Today,I'm still recovering,not being able to live my life to the fullest.
    Again,I hope you don't have one!Either way,let us know how it goes.

  • How interesting?

    I am curious that an infection decides to show up so late after surgery. Is this normal??? (I really don't know I am simply asking the question)

    Do you feel unwell? Any signs - soreness, swelling , tempreture? redness?

    I sincerely hope it is nothing. I was once told that you have 1x MRI and 3 different radiographers reviewing it you will get 3 different reports (kind of) and that see what your surgeon makes of it all.

    Fingers crossed. >:D<

    GogoBG - How long b4 yours showed up?
  • I'm back from my blood test. It's been long enough to have results so I am waiting for my call back. As for how I feel. I was doing great until the 8-9 week mark. I chalked up the new higher pain levels to starting PT. When I saw my NS at 12 weeks I told him about all the new/different pain I was having and that I am most comfortable flat on my back. He sent me for the MRIs and the CT. I am still quite tired and very achy. I usually start the day out pretty well but by late afternoon and early evening I am hurting enough to take 10-20 mg of percocet. This is the only time I really hurt enough to take my pain meds. I have no fever but I have been kind of nauseous, I thought that might be the Perc. I'm not sure if it could be/is an infection, I had not even considered the idea until I saw the STAT fax report from RAD. Which means they (the rads office) faxed my NS LAST Friday and they filed my paper work away and didn't even know about the STAT fax request until I called them a week later. If it turns out I have an infection we lost out on a week of treatment time as far as I am concerned. Obviously I hope to post back saying all is well. I'll let you know when I find out.
  • you can have an infection that doesn't go crazy right away. my MRSA-HA was diagnosed 3 weeks after my fusion, but only cuz I had a seroma was I suspicious (serious swelling). and high fever 3 nights in a row. I too had increased pain but I would have thought that was normal, too. the blood work doesn't lie so you'll know very soon. I did have the pic line in my veins for 6 weeks. treatments twice a day, 1.5 hours each. energy level- zero. but, it was caught and I'm still around. :)
    oh, and yes, you would most likely need surgery so they can go in and clean you up really well. I was in the hospital 5 days for that surgery. let us know ASAP what's up~!
  • I have an elevated SED rate and have to see my NS, but not until Wednesday. The nurses exact line was "your SED rate IS elevated and Dr. ---- wants to see you Wednesday at 3:30." That was all she could tell me. I have tons of questions. I just wish I knew what lie ahead of me that is all..

    I'm trying not to get too down. I continue to welcome your thoughts,stories etc.....
  • I wish you well. >:D<

    Sorry you have to wait....but what ever it is, they are on the case.

    If you start to feel unwell (tempreture etc) get help before Wednesday.

    Keep us posted. x

  • I wish they had something to culture, but you have no swelling, correct? I know you are hating to wait. so sorry. keep busy (without hurting yourself!) and hopefully Wednesday will be here before you know it. other thoughts: did they start you on antibiotics just in case? I'm thinking if the NS thought it was an infection, he would have started you on something. if the blood test could reveal an infection like MRSA, the doc would have called you himself right away. and regular antibiotics are no good for a superbug like MRSA. and you do not want to postpone starting on it. so... did you ask if blood tests revealed an infection? they have to tell you yes or no, it's your body! if the nurse says she can't tell you, then I would ask her to ask the doc to call you himself. you are not being a pain! infections are nothing to mess with, I'm sure we all know. so, please, if you don't know whether or not you have an infection, at least find that out before Wednesday.
  • itsalongwalk--- were you talking to me? if so, yeah... I'm glad I'm still around to tell the tale & whine every now and then. haha a young girl in my town died this summer of a MRSA infection in her blood after a back surgery. she was 16. I am 37... but not quite ready to go either, you know? It was so sad. it could've been me, no doubt. they found my MRSA under the incision (which by then looked like a pork loin under my 6 inch incision-- it was huge) and then deep by my rods and screws, a pocket of it. if that had spread like wildfire, which is usually does at some point, my vertebra, muscles and ligaments would have been seriously compromised. that's a nice way of saying I could'bve been seriously screwed. so yes, I am beyond relieved & grateful it was caught in time. :)
  • Hi Kelly Jo, I just wanted to tell you that a sed rate can be elevated from inflammation as well as infection. Perhaps your doc will just want to do some more tests to confirm if there is a problem. They sometimes do nuclear med scans that will highlight an area of infection. Did they do any other blood tests such as a CBC(complete blood count) or blood cultures? The CBC will show if your body is making more white blood cells as a response to an infection. The blood culture will tell if there is bacteria in your bloodstream. I will pray for you. Try to keep busy this weekend. That is no fair they are making you wait for some answers. And like someone else said, if you get a fever or other symptoms, don't wait. Take care, >:D< >:D< Cali-Sue
  • an infection after all but may simply be inflammation.

    As Cali-Sue said our SED rates increase with other things apart from infection. I have Lupus and my SED rate is always very high, anyone with arthritis or many other problems may also have a high SED rate.
    If your Dr hasn't started you on antibiotics straight away then I would suspect that he doesn't think it is an infection but is seeing you to check it all out.

    Your increased pain is quite likely due to more activity, I know that so many of us here experience that as we journey forth.

    So hang in there, stay positive (that all is fine).

    Blessings Sara O:)
  • hey guys,

    I am trying to remain positive and I realize that an elevated sed rate can mean more than just infection. It is just a little unnerving when you think about the fact that it was higher pain levels and an MRI that prompted the investigation to see if it is an infection ya know. My incision site looks good but I do experience localized pain to the right side of it if any pressure is applied there. My doctor did not order a CBC yet, but him wanting to see me on Wed. is very short notice for his office. They are booked solid 4-6 weeks in advance.
    Knowing he is squeezing me in makes me feel like he is taking this seriously and I would expect nothing less from him, he is a wonderful dr. I have read everything I can find on osteomyelitis just to be prepared. I am praying and hoping for the best. I will keep y'all posted.
  • I like the others am not a medical professional, but I just wanted to add my experience a lot like you right now.
    At about 2 wks post op I started running a fever that lasted for several days. I did not do anything till it finally spiked at 101.6, which prompted a trip to the e.r., where they run several tests. Which at the time did not show any infection, but they did say that it was a possibility that it just wasn't showing up yet. So I followed up with a visit to my ns, and again, everything looked good. At this same time my family received the news that our Mom was failing, which meant a 12 hr drive for my husband and I to get to her. Obviously, more worried about being with my Mom and being with her when she passed, I ignored my body and it's needs so soon after surgery. I ended having my incision start draining which meant a trip to the e.r. while we were there. Again tests done, and given a prescrip for antibiotics. The hospital did call with the results of the culture test, and thankfully it was not mrsa. When we got back to TN I went to my ns for a follow up. He said that it looked like it was just under the skin, so for the time being he said just to continue with meds, and to keep massaging the fluid out of it, with a follow up the nest week. So I had my follow up with him this past Wed., and he had a name for it this time, and it is a seroma. Which is a pocket, that can form after surgery, that fills up with fluid. Again, he said to keep taking meds, massaging the fluid out, which does seem to be decreasing, and that in time it should seal up.
    Well, now that I have wrote a story, I guess my point is to think positive, and know that you are not alone in this. There is so many wonderful people on here, who are there for you. I know cuz they have been there for me.
  • so glad it's a seroma without a staph infection. my husband would massage and drain it for me, of course not knowing it was infected with MRSA. and so glad it's already been cultured.
  • I hope everything is ok.Just from my experience(a very bad one).If tests don't reveal an infection...Doesn't mean there is not one.All my tests were negative.CBC,CED Rate,even a CT Guided Disk Biopsy showed nothing.I had no other symptoms but relentless pain,24/7.I had four MRI's before my doc's said it's Discitis/Osteomyelitis(infected disc and vertebrae).It took some time for it to show on the MRI clearly.This is not to be taken lightly.If your first MRI has suggested it,you should request a second one.Do not let them dismiss you just because the usual symptoms are not there.
    Again,I hope that's not your case.Feel better!

  • Thanks G. I see my NS tomorrow afternoon. I am still in a lot of pain. To the point on having to lay down (sometimes quickly it is so bad) I am on the floor as I type this waiting for my meds to kick in. I had my PT gal palpate my incision site and she said there is a "pocket" of something there, no way to know if it is an infection or just inflammation. I have also been quite nauseous the past week or so, I can't help but wonder if it is nerves though. I've been keeping track of my temp but it has been in the 97 range. It takes a lot for me to have a fever. The RAD report says in black and white to repeat MRI in 6-8 weeks to check for stability. WTHeck?? I am very nervous. My dear husband will be going with me tomorrow. I can't help but wonder what the next step will be??? Needless to say I can't stop thinking about it, not good I know but it is driving me nuts.
  • My NS office called my appointment is postphoned until tomorrow. Dr. had an emergency surgery. At least it is tomorrow and not a week or two away.


  • My NS is not convinced that there is an infection just yet. My SED rate was 39 which is a bit high but not terrible. He very carefully looked over all my latest films. We will retest my SED rate in 5 weeks and get a new set of MRIs w/wo contrast just to be sure. In the mean time he feels that my ongoing pain is from my L2-3 and L3-4 facet joints. He has referred me to pain management for facet joint injections. I am excited that there is a chance for better relief of my pain. He made me feel like I am doing ok. Fusion has begun and while I still have a ways to go I am getting there. My biggest issue now is deciding what to do about going back to work as a mail carrier, my NS thinks I should find another job. I just hate to give up my position. My new goals are to push myself harder to be more active and to continue getting stronger.

    Well that is about it. thank you so much for all your input on infection, I appreciate you all so much.

  • I am now 20 weeks post-op

    Hey everyone as you may remember my NS has been monitoring me for an infection after my L4-S1 fusion surgery back in July. I had a new MRI last Tuesday and it says at the end; There are a few tiny foci of low signal intensity on T1 postcontrast weighted images posterior to the thecal sac on the left at the L4-L5 level best seen on series #8 image #16. This is simillar to the previous study. This is probably related to tiny postsurgical fluid collections. The lack of significant change makes this much less likely to represent an abscess. There is some mass effect on the thecal sac posteriorly from this process; however, this does not cause significant stenosis.

    No other findings to suggest focal fluid collection are noted. No gross paraspinal mass lesions are seen.


    1. Postsurgical changes similar in appearence to previous study as described above.

    2. Tiny probable postsurgical cystic collection posterior to the L-4-L-5 level to the left of midline with some minimal mass effect on the thecal sac as described above most likely postoperative seroma/hematoma.

    The lack of change makes this much less likely to present an abcess. Recommend follow-ups as clinically warranted.

    I was thinking this was good news until I got to the part about a seroma/hematoma. I follow-up with my NS on Thurs. I was just wondering if anyone has any input.



  • I haven't seen you around in ages.

    The report actually sounds pretty good but as you know the big thing is not the report at all but how you are feeling. Are you having any symptoms or signs of anything? Are you walking and able to do so? What about pain levels.
    These are the things that the NS will look at formost but if you are feeling good then you can <:P
    Blessings Sara O:)
  • Hey how are you doing? I was just wondering how things are going for you? I am dealing with an infection myself at the moment. I had a seroma two weeks post op, which was just under the surface of the incision, and the course of treatment for it was antibiotics, and to daily massage the fluid out. After about a month or so it finally healed up, with no lasting problems. But now I am dealing with an infection deep in the tissue, and am having to undergo surgery again this next Tues. My ns said there is 3 pockets of infection in there, and that he will have to go in to clean it out and to also get a culture to find out what kind of infection it is. I was doing great, with plans to go back to work this next week, but alas that's not gonna happen now. lol Last week I developed severe excruciating pain, and also had a temp of 102.6. Got in to see ns a few days later, and they were hoping for it to just be inflamed muscles, but due to having the infection before had me get tests done. The MRI is what showed up the infection. The ns doesn't know if it has affected my fusion or hardware, he will find out once he gets in there. I hope you are on the road to recovery.
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