Postoperative fever is common, and can be caused by infectious and noninfectious causes. While most early fever is due to cytokine release and resolves spontaneously, the possibility of infection should be considered in most cases of postoperative fever. On the other hand, infection can often be present in the absence of fever. Indiscriminate use of laboratory and radiographic testing to evaluate the source of fever is expensive and should be avoided. Use timing of the onset of fever in relation to surgery, combined with directed history and physical examination, to guide the evaluation of a postoperative fever.
KeywordsPostoperative fever Infection Perioperative
Paul S. Pottinger, MD, DTM&H, Professor, Division of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Department of Medicine, University of Washington
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