Surgery is a vital aspect of medical science that has helped millions of people overcome various medical conditions. Before a surgical procedure, certain precautions have to be taken to ensure the safety of the patient and their successful recovery. These precautions may include evaluating the patient’s medical history, conducting necessary medical tests, and administering antibiotics.
Antibiotics are drugs used to treat and prevent bacterial infections. They work by killing bacteria or preventing them from multiplying. For surgical patients, antibiotics are often administered before and after surgery to prevent bacterial infections. If bacteria are present during surgery, they can cause an infection that could delay healing, cause scarring, and even lead to death. In this article, we will delve into why antibiotics are administered before surgery and the benefits of taking antibiotics before undergoing surgical procedures.
Why are antibiotics administered before surgery?
Antibiotics are administered before surgery to prevent infections. The reasons for this vary. For instance, a surgical procedure may cause a bacterial infection that could lead to serious complications. Furthermore, patients with immunosuppression (compromised immunity) are at a higher risk of getting an infection. In addition, surgical patients with pre-existing infections are also at a higher risk of getting infected further.
Antibiotics are administered before surgery as a prophylactic measure. This means it is used to prevent an infection, not treat it. Prophylactic treatment is considered a safer and more effective way of preventing surgical infections than administering antibiotics after surgery has already occurred.
When should antibiotics be administered before surgery?
The timing of antibiotic administration is vital. The antibiotics should be administered at the right time to ensure maximum effectiveness. In most cases, antibiotics are administered within an hour before the surgical incision is made. This time frame is chosen because it is within the period where the highest risk of infection occurs. Once the incision is made, bacteria can enter the wound, causing an infection.
For some surgeries, such as dental surgery, antibiotics may be prescribed before the procedure, especially if there is a high risk of infection. In such cases, the patient may need to take the antibiotics for several days before the procedure.
Which surgical procedures require pre-surgical antibiotics?
Not all surgical procedures require pre-surgical antibiotics. In some cases, doctors might opt to administer antibiotics only after the surgery has been done if they feel the patient is not at high risk of infection. Patients with weakened immune systems are more likely to receive pre-surgical antibiotics.
Below are some of the surgical procedures where pre-surgical antibiotics are commonly prescribed:
Joint replacement – In joint replacement surgery, antibiotics are usually administered before and after the surgery. Joint replacements have a high risk of causing bacterial infections, which can lead to severe complications.
Gynecological surgery – Women undergoing gynecological surgery are usually administered antibiotics before the surgery to decrease the risk of infection of the uterus, ovaries, and fallopian tubes.
Neurosurgical procedures – In neurosurgical procedures, antibiotics are administered to prevent meningitis, a potentially fatal infection of the brain’s membranes.
Cardiac surgery – After cardiac surgery, patients are at a higher risk of getting infections such as endocarditis, which is why antibiotics are usually prescribed before and after surgery to prevent infection.
Benefits of taking antibiotics before surgery
Antibiotics have several benefits when administered before surgery. Below are some of these benefits:
Reduced risk of infection – Antibiotics are highly effective in reducing the risk of bacterial infections during surgery by up to 50%. This is because they kill bacteria, preventing them from entering the surgical site. By preventing bacterial infections, patients can recover faster and be discharged earlier.
Reduced hospital stay – Patients who undergo pre-surgical antibiotics can spend less time in the hospital, resulting in lower healthcare costs. This is because the antibiotics decrease the risk of infection, leading to a reduced risk of surgical complications and a faster recovery.
Safety – Pre-surgical antibiotics are considered safe and have minimal side effects. The most common side effects are nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.
Prevention of complications – Using prophylactic antibiotics during surgery has been shown to reduce the risk of complications. Complications could arise if there was an infection or if the wound was not healing as expected.
Antibiotics are a vital tool in the fight against bacterial infections. In surgical procedures, they are used to prevent infections and increase patient safety. Pre-surgical antibiotics are highly effective in reducing the risk of infection, promoting a faster recovery time, and reducing the likelihood of complications. However, antibiotics should only be prescribed when necessary, and it is essential to follow the doctor’s instructions on when and how to take them. Patients should always adhere to the prescribed dosage and never take antibiotics without consulting a medical professional first.