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Infection post-op--G's story

AnonymousUserAAnonymousUser Posts: 49,578
edited 06/11/2012 - 7:22 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
I've been meaning to share my story in hopes it may help someone out there with new information.

I had a two level lumbar fusion on July 9th. post-op pain was downright brutal.

two weeks later I developed a "seroma"-- swelling where fluid accumulates... right under the entire length of the 5 inch incision. I got it checked out. doc said to apply heat. if it didn't go down, they'd drain it in a couple days. had it drained. they tested the fluid. by now I had a fever of over 102 three nights in a row. pain got worse. the tests came back with crazy numbers... and the MRSA bug- HA (hospital acquired--- not the CA (community acquired which is the one where you get boils on your skin). I had surgery immediately the next morning after the results came back. they'd have done it the same day but I'd already eaten lunch.

they found the MRSA-HA bacteria not only in the seroma, but also deep by the rods and the screws. thank God it didn't spread.

the second surgery (August 3rd) also required a 5 day hospital stay. I was given a "pick-line" (sp?) which is an iv/catheter type thing that goes from my elbow 43 centimeters til it gets to the aorta... right before the heart. the heart distributes the vancomyacin antibiotics throughout my body. it's apparently too hard for the veins to handle. that's why they install the iv with the two plastic lines leading to the aorta. I have two treatments a day. each is 1.5 hours long. thankfully it doesn't hurt.

after that second surgery, my incision had a really hard time healing. this past monday I went to see my neurosurgeon again. he told me he felt he needed to open it back up and clean it out and re-sew it. so, for the 3rd time in 7 weeks, Tuesday I had surgery again. thankfully it was just one night. I had it cleaned out. I have had way more nerve pain post-op in my back than ever, but now they've been messed with 3 times and so that's expected.

I fully expect this will be it and I am finally on the road to lasting recovery.

oh... the treatments will continue through my IV til September 12th. I am beyond grateful it didn't kill me, as it does kill people every year.

through it all, my husband has been amazing and I haven't lost my mind!

so... if you have any signs of a seroma after surgery, (it's very rare but it does happen obviously!) please have it checked out ASAP and have it tested for any bacteria.



  • Thanks for posting your story. It's a reminder that we really have to be careful in hospitals--just where you expect to be safe and sterile, just the opposite can happen! God bless--Mazy
  • "G"

    Glad that everything worked out good and that your surgeon was on top of things. Thanks for sharing your experience.

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  • Wow, so glad you are getting better. How scarey! Infection is one of those surgical risks we all take when we go under the knife. MRSA is a huge problem in the hospital and in the community. I hope and pray that your antibiotics work and clear you of this infection. Sue
  • what were your first symptoms? I have a 9" scar-at the bottom it is more swollen-I have no fever but it is more painful at the bottom. Do you think that is ok?
  • I didn't get a fever right away. I had the seroma for over a week, maybe even two weeks, before I got a fever. It was warmer to the touch. it hurt. it got bigger. it was soft (fluid under the skin). If it were me, I'd call my neurosurgeon and tell him or his nurse. and when you see him, ask him if it's a seroma. and if it is, I'd insist on him draining some of it right away and having it sent to a lab for testing. I wouldn't be afraid of "overreacting". hopefully it's just swelling but you can't be too careful!
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  • Mazy, Sue, "C"... thanks for your responses. the second surgery to clean up the infection was so much easier physically than the fusion surgery was... but emotionally it was much tougher. I was trying to be the perfect patient after the fusion. so for everything seemingly to go wrong was a huge disappointment. plus I had like one night's warning. not much time to mentally prepare. thank God that's all behind me. but yeah... you can't take for granted, unfortunately, that you'll be in good hands. my neurosurgeons are great surgeons. I was in a spine-specialty hospital. they've only have 2 other cases of a staph infection since they opened 6 years ago. so, unfortunately, I was the exception. thankfully I am young (37) and in otherwise good health. the second stay in the hospital... I lost 5 pounds in 5 days. (I didn't really need to) I was so weak. infections can be brutal. I can hardly wait for physical therapy and to be able to get back in the pool. I can't do that til this thing is taken out of my arm in mid-sept. but when I can, wow, it'll be so great to feel strong again.
    like I told my friend the other day... I'm just happy to still be around to whine about all this. :)
  • G, God what an awful experience but i am so glad you have come through bright and breezy. OK maybe not so bright and breezy just yet but it wont be long. :))(
    Thanks for reminding us of the complication, even thoguh they are rare, they are there.

    Blessings Sara
  • G,

    Sorry for your tough time. The fusion should have been enough. I too had a similat infection, only my infection led to my surgeries. I had an infection in my spine, of unknown origin, causing me high fevers, body convulsions, and intense pain in the back. After finding the infection and having surgery to clean it out, I too had a Pic line and 2 months of vancomyacin antibiotics along with Leviquin. The combination of these two potent drugs caused a permanent hearing loss, about 25%, enough to cause aggravation but no hearing aid.

    Emergency surgery in March of 2006 for spinal infection of L 2 and L 3. During surgery, discovered I had Cauda Equina Syndrome. Spine became unstable after surgery and had 360 fusion with 10 pedicle screws, plates and rods in April of 2007.
  • G, your story makes my heart ache! What you went thru! Oh my! PLEASE take it easy now, after all that cutting, etc...

    I had my 1st 2 lammys only 2 weeks apart (1st one for a cystic tumor, 2nd one for a post-op occult spinal fluid leak) & I hear ya...OMG, the pain from two bg surgeries so close together...as you said, you have mega pain now after being opened 3 times (as was I)....it will take you a LONG time to heal all those poor muslces & ticked-off nerves, so go easy on yourself! It just seems to take forever for things to settle down, so don't get discouraged, etc.

    We, also, are glad you are around to tell us about this--& it's NOT whining! You've been thru the mill &then some!

    Will be thinking of you --- please keep us posted, but REST now & let your body start to heal. And may this be the LAST time anyone ever again has to go back "in there"---!

    Take good care!


  • Thanks! I will be sure to ask the nurse the next time she comes to my house!
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