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incision not healing: packing or wound clean out?

AnonymousUserAAnonymousUser Posts: 49,671
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:26 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
3+ weeks after a 3 level laminectomy I’m doing surprisingly well, with one hitch – a portion of my incision appears to be infected and is not sealing. Saw the NS this morning and they believe it to be superficial – by poking they seem to think the fascia is intact. Pending results of the culture, they suspect MRSA, and switched me to Bactrim. I’ve got no fever, redness, swelling, just sharp pain at the incision site.

The question is: I’m being given 2 options for getting this to heal. First, they debrided and packed the wound. Option 1 is to just let the wound heal from the inside out – my husband is supposed to remove small amounts of packing each day, followed up by visiting nurse visits a couple of times a week to check/repack, over the course of 4 weeks. Slow healing, high maintenance, but minimally-intrusive option.

Option 2 is a surgical clean-out where they go in and just remove any infection, clean up the wound edges, and restitch. Overnight hospital stay, possible general anaesthetic (depending on how deep the infection goes). The advantage here is that it’s a more assured solution – I will know now if the infection really is superficial, the healing time will be faster. The obvious disadvantage is that it’s another surgery and another hospital stay.

Has anyone been through something similar and can advise? I am leaning toward the surgery just because I’d hate to get 3 weeks down the road and find that the infection is more extensive, and because I’m really uncomfortable right now.

Thank you for any advice!


  • Well, no one can really decide this except for you, bu tI will offer my opinion for what it is worth.

    As a visiting nurse I can advise you that the packing repacking thing is not a sure bet, and a lot of times, there are many more complications. I know you think it is minimally intrusive but when you have a nurse cramming gauze in your back a few times a week, it will get very sore and very intrusive very fast. You have to be home for the nurses, and it will all get real old, real fast.

    Being a nurse, if it was me, I would opt for the more "intrusive" approach but the one that is more likely to bring about a positive outcome.

    Good luck with whatever you decide!!!!!
  • I, too, would vote for option #2. I have a friend who had MRSA and it was a heck of a long time healing. She opted for the visiting nurse thing and ended up having option #2 a few weeks down the road. She is also diabetic, so I'm sure it took her longer to heal than it will you.

    I wouldn't mess around with that MRSA stuff if I were you! It is NASTY. I know you don't look forward to another hospital stay, but will probably be worth it in the long run.

    Hugs to you today and sorry you have to go through this!
  • I had it for something else and it was a pain. The infection hurt and I would much rather of had it reopened and stitched. You will have a bigger scar if repacking and since they say it is MRSA I would definitely have option 2. Just my opinion and experience speaking. Good Luck and sorry for your pain.
  • Thank you all for your insights. I don't know how I would get through this all without this forum.
    I'm scheduled for the surgery on Friday and hope that will be the end of it.
    Thanks again for the help!
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