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Staph infection after surgery

I had L4-L5 spinal fusion two years ago. The surgery took much longer than had been discussed 10+ hours. After surgery I developed a staph infection at the incision site on the right side of my back. I went back in to surgery that night to clean up the infected area and in addition was referred to an infectious disease doctor. I did not have MRSA; but did have a PICC line put in and spent 6 weeks on IV antibiotics. Since surgery I have pretty consistently run low grade fevers. My white count and CED rate are normal however during a CT myelogram there was spinal fluid taken and it shows I have a higher than normal level of protein in my spinal fusion. Also, I have had continuous pain on my right side with pain in buttocks and leg, so I am going to have the hardware removed on 3/20. My surgeon wants to check the hardware to see if some staph has remained and is causing me to have the low grade fevers; this as well as the ongoing pain are the reasons for hardware removal. I am afraid and I wondered if anyone else had a staph infection and did they have the ongoing fevers? As I understand from other posts; hardware removal is much easier than fusion surgery. I hope this works and I can be me again. Thank you,



  • Hi,

    Your story is very similar to mine except that my initial wound infection was treated conservatively. I only had a couple of weeks of oral antibiotics and it took 6 weeks for my incision to heal and it leaked for 4 weeks. yuck.

    I had a tough recovery and had flare ups of pain/fever from about 6 months post op. Long story short my surgeon never really considered that I had an infection on my hardware - apparently I was never in "enough pain" whatever that means!

    Last August I had yet another flare up and he finally took my hardware out. It was totally covered in pus. I wish I could tell you that I am fine now but I am not. I am still struggling with nerve and back pain and am constantly tired. I had another MRI a couple of weeks ago and I am going to take it to see a new surgeon this Friday.

    I had normal bloods most of the time and only had obvious infection bloods just before the removal. From all the research I have done it seems that the staph form a biofilm on the hardware and these biofilms are pretty impervious to our immune systems and antibiotics. Periodically they "pod off" and that is when we feel ill. So I only had proper fever about 3 times but did have hot flushes at night and in the mornings when I got up.

    I hope that your hardware removal fixes your problems. Good luck.

  • I had a MRSA infection in the chest drain incision.
    It was treated with a blockbuster coctail of antibiotics by injection for a week (biggest syringe I've ever seen used on humans!).

    Luckily the infection never reached the spine and the fusion wasn't affected, but the recovery from the surgery slowed right down. I ended up spending 16 weeks in hospital as a result.

    Since then (nearly 9 years ago now) I get every bug that's going round, throat and sinus infections all the time and any little cut or scratch takes forever to heal and has to be constantly treated with antiseptic cream to stop it going septic.

    I think the anti biotics they use affect your own immune system.

    Good luck Isabelle and Helen.

    I'm not young enough to know everything - Oscar Wilde
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  • I had spinal fusion a year ago and got a staph infection when they took the staples out. Was on oral antibiotics for about 6 weeks. After the 3 month check up my surgeon went away for 6 months. I had back pain after that and saw his colleague but he just referred me to the pain clinic which took 4 months. Now I find out that the infection is back (or maybe it never left) and it looks like I need more surgery. I hope he takes all the hardware out and never puts it back. I see the surgeon Thursday and will find out then what will happen. Sure wish I had had iv antibiotics last summer.
  • Brendon-n-TexasBBrendon-n-Texas Posts: 1
    edited 10/20/2012 - 12:17 AM
    Back in early 2010 I had to get an L4-L5 fusion due to a drunk driver. The surgery didnt go as planned and I was in the hospital for 1 month. Rehanb went quick but after 8 months I started to get sick ALOT. I used to never get sick. Fevers in excess of 104, 3 times a week. I saw no less that 12 doctors. Including Infectious disease clinics and no one could locate the problem. The after about 9 months of this, I had a L5-S1 failure and was rushed into surgery where the discovered the Staph. It had been there for almost two years. I had the titanium replaced with plastic and an anterior fusion of the other disks. after an additional month in the hospital and two months on a picc line, I have been illness free for 8 months... :)
  • RTgirl2011RRTgirl2011 Posts: 511
    edited 11/04/2012 - 8:40 AM
    I had a fusion at L4-5. The incicsion leak the whole two days I was in the hospital and the nurse did nothing about it. After I returned home it kept draining out of control. I consulted the doctor and his APN removed the staples early, she said that my body was rejecting them, the profuse draining continued after staple removal. About a week and half later I had a fever of 103, so I paged the doctor and a different nurse called me back. She had me come into office the next day so the NS could look at my incision. I was in surgery that afternoon for a staph infection washout. I remained in the hospital for eight days after the surgery. The infection really weakened my legs to the point that I could not walk without the assistance of a walker. I also had to complete six weeks of home iv antibiotic therapy. My infectious disease doctor is keeping me on antibiotics for the next year in an effort to keep staph off my instrumentation.
    Discectomies 05/08 and 04/11, fusions L4-5 Feb 9,2012 and L3-L4 June 28,2012, Staph infection washout 3/2/2012, Bulged L5-S1. SCS trial on January 17th, 2014, which was a success! Permanent SCS on February 20th.
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  • You people with spinal staph infections do EVERYTHING you can to get rid of it. My neighbor recently had two spine operations and got a staph infection which raced up her spine to her brain. After eight days on life support lets just say the news is NOT good.....
  • As mentioned in my post above. I had a staph infection my fusion in march. I have been running low grade fevers for about two weeks now. My infectious disease doctor is having me tested for mrsa. I hope everything turns out well for me.

    Discectomies 05/08 and 04/11, fusions L4-5 Feb 9,2012 and L3-L4 June 28,2012, Staph infection washout 3/2/2012, Bulged L5-S1. SCS trial on January 17th, 2014, which was a success! Permanent SCS on February 20th.
  • Wow you guys have really been through it.I also recieved a staph infection through surgery.I am half way through the 6 week antibiodic course.I was hoping that after this course that all would be the same as before,I see that is not always the result. I have noticed that upon tha first 3 or 4 steps after standing I have pain in my pelvis and upper legs.I sure hope this is not an indicator of something more serious going on.Best Wishes to all
  • It can be hard to find the exact answer to an obscure question simply by using google so I ask here.I am about 2/3 through my IV antibiodic course for a staph infection (it is not MRSA).Besides feeling "run down" and a good bit nauseaous I can't really say things have been so bad (this is all realitive as I had to go to a nursing facility for 6 weeks).I ask,what will be the signs that my staph infection has returned,or better said,what wll be the sign that they "got it all".Myself I think the fact that I do not yet get fevers is a very good sign.I will say that the effectiveness of my pain meds,espically at the wound site (back of my neck) and the area between my shoulder blades has decreased tremendously.We have been trying the smallest increases possible but I am feeling the need to ask for another increase,and this is just not me.My pain control works so much better if a schedule is maintained but here in this facility they are on the "one hour before is the same as one hour late plan" (as far as giving out meds).This plan does not work well for me and the Doctor says his control over the nursing staff in this area is limited. I am hoping that when full wound closure and healing comes things are different.
    I send good wishes to all
  • wbmomof3wwbmomof3 Posts: 2
    edited 02/19/2013 - 1:42 PM
    My daughter had a spinal fusion done in January. She was fused from T4 to L2. Everything seemed to be going great. She was up walking the next morning and was so happy to get rid of the hump she had from her kyphosis. She spent 5 days in the hospital and after being home for almost 2 weeks she ended up with a staph infection after developing a hemotoma. We had no idea until her incision started to open. We went to the doctos and she was admitted to the hospital and had to be reopened to clean her hardware and had a wound vac put in. They did 3 surgeries to clean out as much as they could. She spent 9 more days in the hospital and now has a picc line in to receive iv antibiotics 3 times a day. We just seen the infectious disease doctor and things are looking good. The antibiotic is working and she may only have to have her picc line in for a couple more weeks before getting switched to oral antibiotics. The doctors have all been amazing and regardless of everything she is still very happy to have gotten the surgery. We are just hoping that if the staph returns later and she has to get her hardware out that her spine will stay like it is. They said once staph is on your hardware there is a 50% chance of it returning. I wish everyone else the best of luck.
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