Can you get a bacterial infection after a hysterectomy

Hysterectomy is a common surgical procedure performed on women for various reasons such as cancer, fibroids, or endometriosis. 

While it is a safe procedure, there are certain risks associated with it, including the possibility of developing a bacterial infection. 

In this post, we will explore whether it is possible to get a bacterial infection after a hysterectomy and what steps you can take to prevent it.

Can you get a bacterial infection after a hysterectomy?

Yes, a bacterial infection can occur after a hysterectomy. A hysterectomy is a major surgical treatment that involves the removal of the uterus, and there is a danger of infection, as with any surgical procedure. 

Several factors can increase the likelihood of acquiring a bacterial infection following a hysterectomy, including:

  • Infection at the incision site: The incision site is a potential entry point for bacteria, and if it becomes infected, it can lead to a more serious infection. 
  • Bacterial contamination during surgery: During the surgery, bacteria from the skin or other sources can enter the surgical site and cause an infection. 
  • Use of urinary catheter: A urinary catheter may be used during the surgery, and it can increase the risk of developing a urinary tract infection. 
  • Weakened immune system: If a person has a weakened immune system due to an underlying health condition or medication, they may be more susceptible to developing a bacterial infection after a hysterectomy.

Staph infection after hysterectomy

A staph infection is a type of bacterial infection caused by Staphylococcus. It can occur after a hysterectomy if the wound becomes infected.

Staphylococcus aureus is a type of bacteria that can cause skin infections and it is also a common cause of surgical site infections (SSIs).

Surgical site infections occur when bacteria enter the surgical wound and cause an infection.

A study aimed to investigate the number of Staphylococcus aureus infections after elective hysterectomy as well as the characteristics of patients who developed infections and the economic consequences of infection.

The study found that the incidence of Staphylococcus aureus infection within 90 days post-surgery was 0.8% for inpatient surgery and 0.4% for outpatient surgery with the type of procedure being the most significant factor.

Patients who developed Staphylococcus aureus infections had higher healthcare resource utilization and costs within 120 days post-surgery compared to those without infection or with other types of infection.

Pelvic infection after hysterectomy

A pelvic infection, commonly known as a pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), is an infection of the female reproductive system caused by bacteria. 

Bacteria can enter the pelvic area through the incision site or the vagina in the case of a pelvic infection following a hysterectomy. 

A pelvic infection may cause fever, chills, abdominal pain, and vaginal discharge. Pelvic infections, if left untreated, can lead to major problems such as chronic pelvic discomfort, infertility, and even death. 

In a study, researchers followed women who underwent pelvic surgery with a hysterectomy in Sweden for two months.

They collected information about the surgical procedure and postoperative course. 

They found that 23% of the women developed infections after surgery, with 9.4% having wound, cuff, and/or deep infections, 13% having urinary tract infections, and 4% having other infections unrelated to the surgical site.

The risk of infection was increased with Wertheim-Meigs procedures, preoperative bleeding >1000ml, and bacterial vaginosis.

A course of antibiotics is the typical treatment for a pelvic infection, which can help clear the infection and avoid subsequent complications. 

What causes abscess after hysterectomy

An abscess is a pocket of pus that forms in the body as a result of a bacterial infection. 

It can occur after a hysterectomy if bacteria enter the body through the incision site or from the vagina. 

The bacterial infection causes the body’s immune system to react by sending white blood cells to the area to fight off the infection. 

These white blood cells, along with dead tissue and bacteria, can accumulate and form a pocket of pus (the abscess).

In simpler terms, after gynecologic surgery, postoperative cuff and pelvic abscesses are common complications. 

To reduce the risk of infection, doctors are expected to evaluate preoperative and postoperative risk factors and manage modifiable risk factors. Pelvic abscesses are usually caused by a mix of bacteria.

Symptoms of pelvic abscess after hysterectomy

The specific symptoms of an abscess may vary depending on the location of the abscess but pelvic abscess, includes;

  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Abdominal pain
  • Lump or swelling around the incision site
  • Redness or swelling of the skin
  • Fatigue
  • Pelvic fullness

Bacterial vaginosis after hysterectomy

BV is considered a risk factor for the development of postoperative infections in obstetrics and gynecology.

The occurrence of postoperative infections is associated with the spread of microorganisms that are found in the vagina such as bacteria.

Postcesarean endometritis, postoperative cuff cellulitis, and as well as BV are believed to occur when microorganisms move from the vagina and spread into the pelvic region.

Symptoms of internal infection after hysterectomy

The symptoms of internal infection after a hysterectomy may include;

  • Vaginal bleeding or discharge
  • Abdominal-pelvic pain
  • Pressure in the vagina
  • Protrusion of bowel
  • Fever
  • Redness
  • Delayed healing
  • Tenderness
  • Warmth or swelling
  • Vaginal cuff abscess
  • Vaginal cuff dehiscence

Prevention

To avoid infection following a hysterectomy, it is critical to follow correct post-operative care and cleanliness guidelines. 

This involves keeping the incision site clean and dry, taking antibiotics as directed, refraining from sexual activity for a few weeks after surgery, and notifying a healthcare practitioner if any infection symptoms arise.

Treatment for infection after hysterectomy

In general, antibiotics are used to treat bacterial infections. The specific antibiotic chosen will depend on the type of bacteria causing the infection and its sensitivity to different antibiotics.

Infection after a hysterectomy is a big deal therefore it is important to consult with a healthcare provider for prompt treatment for a successful recovery.

A study of 213 women revealed that among the 59 women with abnormal vaginal flora, there were no vaginal cuff infections in the group that received treatment.

Meanwhile, 27% of the women who didn’t receive treatment got an infection. For the 83 women with lactobacilli flora, treatment reduced the vaginal cuff infection rate from 9.5% to 2%.

The study found that treating women with metronidazole rectally for at least 4 days before and after surgery reduced vaginal cuff infections significantly in women with abnormal vaginal flora.

Cuff infection after hysterectomy

A cuff infection can occur if bacteria enter the area through the incision site or from the vagina. The most common bacteria that cause cuff infections are Staphylococcus aureus and Escherichia coli.

What Next?

If you are having symptoms of bacterial infection following a hysterectomy or other pelvic surgery, it is critical that you seek medical assistance.

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Last Updated on November 22, 2023 by Our Editorial Team