Surgical Treatment for Staphylococcal Infections

If a staphylococcal infection is located in a wound or affects muscles or the fibers surrounding the muscles, it may need to be surgically cleaned.

At NYU Langone, draining a wound is the main treatment for staph infections of the skin. This procedure involves using a sterile tool such as a needle, scalpel, or lancet to make a small incision in the skin. The doctor drains the pus that has collected there. Afterward, he or she covers the area with a thin layer of gauze and a sterile dressing. 

If the staph infection is deep inside a wound, a doctor may use a procedure called debridement to remove contaminated tissue. Before the procedure, the area around the wound may be numbed with a local anesthetic, and you may be given a sedative. The skin surrounding the wound is cleaned and disinfected, and the doctor removes any dead tissue. The wound is washed thoroughly. After the procedure, you can go home. If you are already in the hospital, this procedure is not likely to extend your stay. 

If a staph infection is located at the site of a device or prosthetic, such as an intravenous line or a pacemaker, the doctor may need to remove the device. Surgery may be required to remove the prosthetic or device and clean the infected area. 

If a joint implant becomes infected, doctors may remove the prosthetic joint and insert an antibiotic spacer in its place. This device maintains the joint space and alignment and provides comfort and mobility while the infection is being treated. After the staph infection is gone, surgeons remove the spacer and implant a new prosthetic joint.

Infection in the joints or bones and a postoperative abscess—a buildup of pus or infected fluid surrounded by inflamed tissue—may also require surgery to remove affected tissues.

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