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Incision and drainage, complex, postoperative wound infection

CPT4 code

Name of the Procedure:

Incision and Drainage, Complex, Postoperative Wound Infection (I&D, Postoperative Wound Infection)


Incision and drainage (I&D) is a procedure performed to treat complex infections at the site of a surgical wound. It involves making an incision to open up the infected area and allow the pus or infected fluids to drain out, which helps in reducing inflammation and promoting healing.


The procedure aims to address severe infections occurring after surgery (postoperative wound infections). The primary goals are to remove pus, reduce bacterial load, alleviate pain, and promote healing of the infected wound.


The procedure is indicated for patients presenting with:

  • Redness, swelling, and warmth at the surgical site
  • Severe pain in the area of the postoperative wound
  • Pus or fluid accumulation under the skin of the wound site
  • Fever or signs of systemic infection
  • Persistent wound infections that do not respond to antibiotics alone


  • Patients may be instructed to fast for a certain period before the procedure if general anesthesia is used.
  • Current medications should be discussed with the healthcare provider, who may adjust dosages or cease certain medications temporarily.
  • Pre-operative blood tests or imaging (e.g., ultrasound, MRI) may be conducted to assess the extent of the infection.

Procedure Description

  1. Anesthesia: Local anesthesia is typically used to numb the area, though general anesthesia may be administered for more extensive infections.
  2. Incision: A small cut is made over the infected area.
  3. Drainage: Pus, infected fluid, or debris is drained from the wound.
  4. Debridement: Dead or infected tissue may be removed to promote healing.
  5. Irrigation: The wound is thoroughly cleaned with a sterile saline solution.
  6. Packing: The wound may be packed with gauze or a drain may be inserted to keep it open and allow continued drainage.
  7. Closure: Depending on the case, the wound might be left open to heal from inside out or partially closed with sutures.


The procedure typically takes about 30 minutes to an hour, depending on the complexity of the infection.


It is usually performed in a hospital operating room but can sometimes be done in an outpatient clinic or surgical center.


  • Surgeons
  • Nurses
  • Anesthesiologists (if general anesthesia is used)

Risks and Complications

Common risks include:

  • Pain at the incision site
  • Bleeding
  • Scarring
  • Infection recurrence Rare but severe complications could involve:
  • An adverse reaction to anesthesia
  • Damage to surrounding tissues
  • Systemic infection


  • Rapid relief from pain and pressure caused by the infection
  • Reduced risk of further spread of the infection
  • Enhanced healing and recovery of the surgical site Benefits can typically be noticed within a few days to a week after the procedure.


  • Keep the wound clean and dry; follow the care instructions provided by the healthcare team.
  • Change dressings regularly and monitor for signs of infection.
  • Limit physical activity as advised.
  • Follow-up appointments for wound checks and possibly additional treatments.
  • Complete prescribed antibiotic courses.


  • Antibiotic therapy alone, which may be effective for less severe infections.
  • Needle aspiration, which involves using a needle to drain the infection but may be less effective for complex cases. These alternatives may be less invasive but could also be less effective in fully resolving severe infections.

Patient Experience

During the procedure, local anesthesia will minimize discomfort, though pulling or pressure sensations may be felt. Post-procedural pain is manageable with prescribed pain medications. Patients may experience some initial discomfort, swelling, and redness, which typically improves within a few days with proper wound care.

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