Surgery is a procedure that affects your body in many ways besides the actual reason for the operation. Any type of surgery from an appendectomy (Sepsis and Appendicitis) to a face lift to a Cesarean section (Sepsis and Pregnancy) exposes your body to infection and a fair number of complications, many of which could develop into sepsis.

Sometimes called blood poisoning, sepsis is the body’s often deadly response to infection or injury. Sepsis kills and disables millions and requires early suspicion and rapid treatment for survival.

Once sepsis sets in, if left untreated, it can progress to septic shock and death. Worldwide, one-third of people who develop sepsis die. Many who do survive are left with life-changing effects, such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), chronic pain and fatigue, and organ dysfunction (don’t work properly) and/or amputations.

How Does Sepsis Occur After Surgery?

The most common cause of sepsis after surgery is infection. This could be infection of the incision, where the surgeon opened to perform the procedure, or an infection that develops after the surgery, such as pneumonia (Sepsis and Pneumonia) or urinary tract infection (UTI) (Sepsis and Urinary Tract Infections).

When you have surgery, it is important to monitor the incision, watching it for signs of infection. This would be

  • Increasing redness around the incision
  • Pus or other fluid coming from the incision
  • Warmer than usual skin around the incision
  • Increased pain around the incision
  • Fever
  • Fatigue

Pneumonia is not uncommon after having surgery, which is why it is important to get up and about as quickly as is possible after the operation. Deep breathing and coughing exercises are also helpful in keeping your lungs clear. Patients who had to use a ventilator to breathe, a machine that pushes air into the lungs, are also at a higher risk of developing pneumonia.

Other infections, such as UTIs may develop if you had to be catheterized (a tube inserted into your bladder). The longer the catheter remains in place, the higher the risk of infection.

Other complications can also increase the risk of sepsis. For example, people with diabetes are at increased risk (Sepsis and Diabetes), as are those liver disease (Sepsis and Liver Disease).