Wound Care

Your surgical incision will be closed with either surgical glue, sutures, staples or a combination of these closure methods. Proper at-home care of your incision is very important and will result in less scarring and a lower chance of infection at the incision site.

Cervical Spine Surgery patients will have a drain placed in their incision. This drain will need to be removed 24 hours after surgery by a home health nurse or your care companion. Lumbar Spine Surgery patients will also have a drain placed in their incision; however these patients will have their drain removed before they leave the hospital.

To remove the drain: Wash hands thoroughly and dry. Put on sterile gloves. Hold a piece of sterile gauze over the incision at the place where the drain tube exits the incision. Gently pull the drain tube out. Discard drain, gauze and gloves.

The bandage over your incision should be changed daily.

To change gauze: Wash hands thoroughly and dry. Put on sterile gloves. Remove old gauze and tape. Place clean gauze over the length of the incision and secure into position with bandaging tape. Band-aids may also be used to cover the incision area while it heals.

Occasionally, the skin around your incision may become irritated from the tape used to hold the gauze in place. If this occurs, try applying less tape, apply the tape to different areas of the skin, or increase the size of the gauze, so that it covers the irritated skin and apply tape to clean skin.

Watch the incision for signs of infection. These are:

  • Redness
  • Inflammation
  • Swelling
  • Fever – over 101.5 degrees F
  • Pus or drainage from the incision

Do not put any creams (antibiotic) or vitamin E on your incision. Do not rub or scratch at your incision. Avoid getting your incision wet for the first 5 days after surgery.


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