Overweight or Obesity Likely to Cause Post Op Infections in Children

Wound infections after surgery are common. Surgical site infections (SSIs) include infections in the area of the skin where the incision is made, infections below the incision in muscles and tissues surrounding the muscles, and infections in other parts of the body involved in the surgery. Several studies report that on an average, post-surgery infection increases the length of hospital stay by 9.7 days.

A recent study published in the journal Surgical Infections finds that overweight and obese children are more likely than others to develop postoperative surgical site infections (SSIs). The study helps physicians to assess and counsel preoperative pediatric surgery patients and their families.

Researchers reviewed a total of 1,380 patients aged 2-18 who developed surgical site infections after a major surgery in 2012 or 2013, from a U.S. surgical database.They classified patients as underweight, normal, overweight, or obese based on body mass index (BMI). They found that

  • 40 percent patients were overweight or obese
  • Overweight children had 23 percent higher odds for infection
  • Obese children had 43 percent higher odds

Optimal management of post-operative wounds in the community is important to prevent potential complications such as surgical site infections and wound dehiscence from developing.

The key elements of post-operative wound management include timely review of the wound, appropriate cleansing and dressing, and early recognition and intervention of wound complications. Accurate assessment and wound documentation can also reduce SSI complications. A good dressing should maintain a moist wound environment and thus promote wound healing. Treated wounds are usually assessed to determine the progress of healing. Wound care assessment should include details such as color of wound and surrounding area, approximation of wound edges, size and location of dehiscence, if present, swelling and post-operative pain. While moderate postoperative pain is common, persistent severe pain may indicate hemorrhaging or infection. All such details can be documented effectively using a wound specific EMR. Wound EMR now comes with wound-specific templates that allow nurses to enter each patient’s medication list, advance directives and progress notes, reports and other wound care information.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has warned that obese children are at higher risk for several health issues including high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and abnormal glucose tolerance. Such children may also develop health conditions such as asthma, hepatitis steatosis, sleep apnea, and type 2 diabetes.