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Fever After Surgery


Updated May 28, 2014

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Mid adult man taking his temperature
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Question: Fever After Surgery
My surgeon said a low-grade fever after surgery is very common. What causes a fever after surgery?

There are many reasons that you might develop a fever after surgery, and how severe it is depends upon the cause. There are dozens of reasons that your temperature might be elevated after a surgical procedure, most are related to the procedure, but some are not.

It is important to take your temperature daily in the week following surgery. While a fever after surgery is the single most common complication and isn't necessarily alarming, it should never be ignored. A serious fever -- 102 degrees F or higher -- indicates the need for medical attention, but all fevers should be reported to your surgeon.

Causes of Fever After Surgery:

Non-Surgical Reasons For Fever:

  • Virus, such as the flu
  • Cold
  • Sore Throat
  • Neurological Fever: This type of fever is caused by a brain injury and will not respond to normal interventions, such as Ibuprofen.

The cause of your fever may not be obvious, and a low-grade fever may not even warrant treatment. Often, a fever between 99 and 101 is allowed to run it's own course without medication. Higher temperatures typically require greater attention and may require testing to identify the cause.


Evaluating Postoperative Fever: A Focused Approach. Cleveland Clinic Journal of Medicine. April 2011. http://ccjm.org/content/73/Suppl_1/S62.full.pdf

Fever In the Postoperative Patient: A Chilling Problem. The Canadian Journal of CME. Accessed April 2011. http://www.stacommunications.com/journals/cme/2004/May/PDF/093.pdf

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