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Incision problems ???

jellyhalljjellyhall Posts: 4,373
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:43 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
I had a lumbar decompression on 3 levels and a fusion on L4/L5
nearly 4 weeks ago.

Since surgery, most of my incision has healed very well, but part of it is not closed properly and for that reason, has not healed together.

When the staples were removed at 10 days, the surgeon said it would heal, but slowly and wanted to see me two weeks later to check it.
I saw him again yesterday and the incision was still not closed, but still looks like a fresh incision, and has not even reduced in length.

I have now developed an infection in it so am on antibiotics.
He got a nurse to take a swab of it, clean it and then replace the dressing.
They have arranged for a district nurse to visit me every other day to clean the wound and change the dressing.

I am interested in other peoples experiences of problems with their incision and how long it took to heal fully, especially when the incision was't lined up properly.

I am also having to take antihistimine tablets because I have an allergic reaction to the dressing.

Other than this problem, my recovery is going very well.


  • Well,geez,Jelly,I am so sorry!After my first fusion,I had to have my incision drained,it was very painful,but I had such a terrible time the first time,I wasn't in shape for anything!I am glad you have a nurse visiting-just move easily and keep an eye on it-Jeannie
  • They should have a final report on that culture in a couple of days. Make sure you call you Dr. and find out what kind of bacteria it is, and that you are on an antibiotic that is sensitive to that particular bacteria.

    Hope it clears up soon!!

  • Jelly, I am so sorry to hear that it is infected. I am sure that you already know this, but watch for signs of increased pain in the area and also fever, chills, etc... The antibiotic should start working soon and the nurse will be able to see a difference. I did get an infection in my cervical fusion incision. One side healed perfectly, but the other didn't close and was fresh and open looking. Then drainage...ugh! The NS put me back in the hospital and opened it up and cleaned it out. Everything was great after that. I will pray for a speedy recovery for you. I am glad that you have a nurse watching your progress.

  • jellyhall very glad that they figured out you had a problem with incision, and its being taken care of. great to hear also that they are coming to you instead of you having to go to them everyone other day. just a slight hiccup in your recovery, just make sure you take your meds without fail. best wishes.
  • Sorry Jellyhall about your incision, sounds like your getting better. Mine was ALIF and didn't heal that hot either, I left the strips and bandage on too long, was still leaking at 3-4 weeks and looked infected. I had been swabbing it with Iodine, then Doc Put me on the anti-biotic Cefadroxil for a week, that took care of everything, then it quit leaking, but one thing that anti-biotic kills all the good enzymes in your intestines, so the by-product of it, I had diahrhea for about 2 weeks, guess it could be better then constipation from meds. But Asadopolus pills took care of that. The whole time, my doctor said it looked fine and it got a lot better quick, it took about a week or too after the anti-biotics and it was night and day different. ;)

    Hope you feel better. ;)
  • Hi Jelly,

    I had an infection after my fusion as well. Since my incision was closed on the outside with dermabond, the yucky stuff stayed inside and swelled. It was so puffy! Ughhhh but antiobiotics took care of it quickly. No opening incision and cleaning as in my previous experience. I don't think I could have stood a second surgery again.

    For some reason, everytime I have been opened surgically, I get an infection. I am well aware of the symptoms so caught it quickly.

    I hope the dressing changes and the antibiotics work ASAP. Also, that your recovery continues to go smoothly :)

  • j.howiejj.howie Brentwood, Ca., USAPosts: 1,730
    but the antibiotics cleared them up. Once, I had to go 2 rounds of the antibiotics. But it's just a bump in the road. Do check to see that the incision isn't hot or that you don't run a fever.
    good luck,Jim
    Click my name to see my Medical history
    You get what you get, not what you deserve......I stole that from Susan (rip)
    Today is yours to embrace........ for tomorrow, who knows what might be starring you in the face!
  • I have been taking this in an attempt to try to help my body get over this. I've read that it is good at fighting bacterial infections. The nurse at the hospital was very pleased when I told her I was using it.
    Mind you, I have still managed to get this infection. Perhaps I'm not taking enough!!

    Has anyone else tried/ heard about this?
    Do you know how much I should be taking?
  • My surgeon was relectant to open it up to redo it as he said it would set me back in my recovery, but even more importantly, he said now it was infected, there was a risk of pushing the infection deeper into the wound.
  • Hi Jelly,
    Sorry to hear you are having a rough time. I had a wound infection too but mine started 11 days post op. Mine leaked absolutely loads so that I ended up having my dressings changed at least once a day and even then my knickers and pyjama bottoms were wet most of the time. It lasted for 3 and a half weeks and so my wound finally closed up after about 5-6 weeks. I think my scar is a bit more ugly as a result. Mine was swabbed but nobaody checked the results so I was on the wrong antibiotics for a week. Then had to take another load for another week.
    I was also allergic to the dressings and ended up on hayfever tabs too!
    Oh - my surgeon totally restricted my exercise while I was infected as he didn't want it working its way in - might be worth asking the question?
    I would have thought that the manuka honey stuff would work better applied rather than eaten - but I am not sure! It rings a bell somewhere that makes me think I have seen it being smeared on wounds or something.
    It is also worth asking if they have any silver dressings as they help fight infection and promote healing.
    I hope it isn't causing too much pain. I remember my infection made me soooo miserable. Worse than the initial post op pain!
    Hope it clears soon.
  • For your helpful comments :-)
    I think your infection was worse than mine!
    Although my wound has become sore and tender, it is not too bad.
    I'll be especially careful not to overdo do it, walking wise.
    I have had 2 one hour sleeps today, so am obviously feeling tired!
    I had stopped sleeping during the day. I hope I can sleep tonight. I only ever seem to manage to sleep an hour at a time, then need to carefully change my position.

    You are correct about applying the Manuka honey topically but I know I am not supposed to put anything on the wound, so I am eating it instead in the hope that it might help a bit.

    I have been given 2 weeks of strong antibiotics. The have caused me to have severe diarrhea (spelling?!). As if I don't have enough problems. I mentioned it to the district nursethis morning, but she said that was very common and didn't seem worried.

    Thanks to all for your kind comments. :-)
    It helps to share!

  • Hi Jelly,

    It has to be rough dealing w/ an infection now. I hope that it clears soon. They've probably put you on a strong antibiotic and it's probably killed off too many of the bacterial flora causing the diarrhea (fairly common w/ strong antibiotics or extended courses of weaker ones). A way to help get your gut/tummy back in order and help resolve the diarrhea is start eating some yogurt 2-3 times per day. The trick is to eat the yogurt 2 hours BEFORE or 2 hours AFTER you take an antibiotic dose. You want to be sure the yogurt has cleared the stomach before the meds as many antibiotics are rendered useless or near useless in the presence of dairy. The plain type of yogurt is best, if you can't eat the plain, stay w/ 'simple' flavors like vanilla.

    Hope this helps,
  • Hello Jellyhall. Hate to hear you're having a hard go at it with the incision. I have a bit of experience with a difficult incision, as well.

    Back in '01 when I had my double fusion, I ended up with a little pucker in the middle of the 9" incision. After a month or so, it just would not close so we tested it for infection and got a negative. I doctored it for another month with no good results so a plastic surgeon took over and did a small cleanup procedure under anesthetic in the OR. He restitched it and said it was clean inside but the layers weren't reattaching. Month or two later, had to have one more surgery that was a tad more aggressive but still no infection was found so they cleaned it and shut it again. Eventually, it finally healed, thank goodness. Sometimes it's just hard getting all those layers to line up and stay sealed and then heal together.

    So not everyone has a perfect healing experience. Sometimes we struggle through these extra problems but eventually they work themselves out. It sure does make an already difficult time harder though, right? I hope you are able to get some of the infection down with the help of the nurse coming to you. That's a real blessing to have available for you. Hang in there and good luck. Sit in the sunshine when you get time and let it glare onto your wound for a few minutes, if they say that's okay. Sunshine has wonderful healing qualities to it.

    You take care.
  • I agree with PFd and to eat yogurt to help with your digestion. Hopefully the side effects stop when you're finished keflex your antibiotic if you're on that one. Take care and hope you heal soon. Charry
    DDD of lumbar spine with sciatica to left hip,leg and foot. L4-L5 posterior disc bulge with prominent facets, L5-S1 prominent facets with a posterior osteocartilaginous bar. Mild bilateral foraminal narrowing c-spine c4-c7 RN
  • Hey jellyhall! Yogurt really does help. I had to be on 2 strong antibotics after my surgery. One right after another~one for pneumonia/plurecy and the other for the fusion itself. Usually I have significant GI issues. This time I ate the yogurt and I didn't have any issues. I still eat it now and it helps with the constipation issues from medications.

    I'm so sorry this is happeneing. I am keeping you in my thoughts and prayers for a speedy and complete resolution to this infection.

    I'm beginning to think it is almost impossible to not have something unexpected happen during recovery.

    Has your hubby went back to work? I wish we were closer so we could keep each other company.

    Hope the sun is shining on you my friend! gentle hugs!

    xxxxxxxx Shari
  • I'll put yoghurt on the shopping list!

    I know that compared with my surgery, these are minor issues. Apart from this, I have been doing very well, so I'm grateful for that.

    Yes, Mr Jellyhall has gone back to work on Tuesday :-(
    I still have 2 sons home from college/ university though. Also my married daughter came and spent a day with me, as she is a teacher and still on Easter break.
    Gradually getting more independent.

    I have some friends who have offered to come and visit/ help whenever I would like.
    My daughter is collecting and bringing my mum to come and see me on Friday :-)

    the support on SP is wonderful!
    Thank you to you all
    wishing you all a great and minimal pain day
  • I'm on two strong antibiotics too. I take Keflex 2000 mg/every 6 hours, and Levaquin at night. I'm constantly just feeling icky and sleepy. I did read somewhere that high doses of antibiotics can make a person really tired. I also take 1 acidipholus pill at night, and I would guess that is why I haven't experienced diarea. I've been on these for about 2 1/2 weeks now, and have atleast another two weeks to go.

    My infection was bad enough for them to open it back up and clean it out. I also have a home nurse coming once a week to check the wound, and hubby is doing dressing changes. My wound is about 3 inches long, 1/2 inch wide, and 3 inches deep, with some tunneling in there too. But it is slowly healing! The nurse told me the other day not to be upset if this takes another 4 months to heal up. It all depends on the persons body.

    I've not been told anything about not exercising until the infection is cleared up, but I will ask this morning at my appt. I do know that in order for my insurance to pay a home health care nurse, I have to be considered homebound.

    Good luck with your healing, I hope it goes fast for you.
  • Sounds like your infection is much worse than mine.
    I'm glad that they got onto it quite quickly.
    I think it is already responding to the antibiotics, so hopefully the infection will go and then the last bit of the incision can draw together and heal.
    Then I can stop wearing the dressing and the allergic reaction can heal up completely.

    I hope that your healing will continue steadily and be swifter than they expect.
    Won't it be lovely to be fully healed from all of this!

    Take care
  • On a positive at least you aren't constipated ;)

    The second lot of antibiotics I had were awful. I had to take two sorts - one 4 times a day one three times and the 4 times a day had to be on an empty stomach and at least an hour before food. How often do you have an empty stomach and still want to wait an hour to eat??? And they gave me the runs and heartburn to boot!

    At least I wasn't going mad with my idea about the honey!

    Hope you feel better soon.
  • What with the diarrhea and trying to keep my stomach empty, either before or after taking my tablets 4 times a day. By the end of the 2 weeks I MUST have lost some weight. :-)
  • I've lost weight from the antibiotics. I just don't feel like eating at all. So there is some hope!!

  • Had a call from the surgeon yesterday. They had the results from the swab and he wasn't happy. He wanted to examine it to check that he didn't need to change my antibiotics.

    He said is was responding to the antibiotics I was taking and to complete the course. He did say that I had over granulation tissue and that they would deal with it by using Silver Nitrate to cauterise it. The nurse started to be very 'kind and caring' so I asked her if this was going to hurt. She said probably. I must say that it wasn't too bad.

    He said to cancel my Monday 6 week post-op appointment and make it for 2 weeks later. Then he will x-ray and hopefully I'll be healed and can start my physiotherapy.

    Every time my dressing is changed it is by a different nurse, and each one seems to have a different idea of what they should do. I think before long, I will have tried every possible way to change a dressing. Several different types of dressing, Inadine dressing inside incision, Inadine laid over the top, nothing at all inside, flushing with saline solution, just wiping, and now Silver Nitrate!!

    I have started taking the friendly bacteria yoghurt!
    Any other ideas? Willing to try almost anything!

    I can't wait for this to heal and get rid of the dressing, so I can shower without worrying and stop taking the tablets to control the allergic reaction!

    Wishing you all a reduced pain and cheerful emotions day :-)

  • Oh I am so sorry to hear you are still having trouble with that darn incision. I think you are doing everything you possibly can at this point.
    Thinking about ya,
  • jellyhall sorry to hear you are still having to deal with the incision infection. prior to surgery that is probably something that never crosses our minds, hopefully doctor has it under control and you can put away the tape and gauze my best wishes and keep healing.
  • Jelly-I am so sorry!!!!At least you sound positive,and that helps alot----please keep us posted!
  • Oh my friend, I am so sorry that this part of your journey continues. I am thankful that the pain from the procedure the nurse did wasn't too painful!

    We will keep praying that these next few days of antibotics will take care of the infection.

    On a lighter note, I had to laugh when you mentioned to Tamara about the men in your life and their housekeeping skills. For FOUR days there was a paper cup laying by our front door and NO one noticed and picked it up. I was going to leave it and just count the days, but after 4 I couldn't take it anymore and used my reacher to pick it up!! :)

    Hoping that you will be able to sleep tonight comfortably! Gentle hugs! xxxxxx Shari
  • Oh my goodness hon - I am so very sorry to read this post. I hope with the special visits from the burse they can get you on the right track. I wish they had not let it get to the point where you have an infection. Please keep me posted honey. I am so sorry you are going through this

    Luv and hugs
  • How did you get on returning to work?

    Thanks to all for calling in and expressing your concern for me :-)

    It is just like you have paid me a visit here (in my untidy house!) :H
  • Yogurt in reality contains just an adequate amount of probiotics. I took a Probiotic supplement that stated the amount on the label. It was 6 billion cells per capsule. That is more likely to help you replenish your lost good bacteria in your gut.

    Hope you heal up nicely very soon!!

  • sorry to hear about that i also had a problem with mine only in one spot and it began to pullapart was alos allergic to the tape that they put on my bad they said use neosporien not good made it wore so i bet alot of poeple have that problem my fianally head took abot 6 to 8 weeks good luck i just ened up keeing mine dry thake care theresa
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