To determine the incidence and clinical significance of early postoperative fever, all children (n=256) undergoing surgery in the main operating theratres during a 4 wk period were studied. Admission and operating room data were reviewed and the clinical record was monitored at 12 hourly intervals for the first 3 postoperative days. The patients were followed for 1 mo for the development of recognizable complications. Seventy-three children (28.5%) developed fever >38°C but in only four (1.6%) did this represent a septic process. Physical examination led to the proper diagnosis in all. Risk factors that correlated statistically with postoperative fever were operation of greater than 2 hr (p<.001), intraoperative transfusion (p<.001), preexisting infection (p<.01) and the use of preoperative antibiotics (p<.001). Anatomic site of operation, age and sex were not significant factors. We conclude that many factors other than infection are responsible for post-operative fever. Further, only a very small proportion of children with early postoperative fever develop significant septic complications. In the assessment of postoperative fever a protocol which indiscriminately includes lab investigations and X-rays is costly and usually not diagnostic. Laboratory tests are indicated mainly to confirm diagnoses suspected by clinical evaluation.
- Post-operative fever
- post-operative complications
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health