Learn About Gangrene

What is the definition of Gangrene?

Gangrene is the death of tissue in part of the body.

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What are the causes of Gangrene?

Gangrene happens when a body part loses its blood supply. This may happen from injury, an infection, or other causes. You have a higher risk for gangrene if you have:

  • A serious injury
  • Blood vessel disease (such as arteriosclerosis, also called hardening of the arteries, in your arms or legs)
  • Diabetes
  • Suppressed immune system (for example, from HIV/AIDS or chemotherapy)
  • Surgery
What are the symptoms of Gangrene?

The symptoms depend on the location and cause of the gangrene. If the skin is involved, or the gangrene is close to the skin, the symptoms may include:

  • Discoloration (blue or black if skin is affected; red or bronze if the affected area is beneath the skin)
  • Foul-smelling discharge
  • Loss of feeling in the area (which may happen after severe pain in the area)

If the affected area is inside the body (such as gangrene of the gallbladder or gas gangrene), the symptoms may include:

  • Confusion
  • Fever
  • Gas in tissues beneath the skin
  • General ill feeling
  • Low blood pressure
  • Persistent or severe pain
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What are the current treatments for Gangrene?

Gangrene requires urgent evaluation and treatment. In general, dead tissue should be removed to allow healing of the surrounding living tissue and prevent further infection. Depending on the area that has the gangrene, the person's overall condition, and the cause of the gangrene, treatment may include:

  • Amputating the body part that has gangrene
  • An emergency operation to find and remove dead tissue
  • An operation to improve blood supply to the area
  • Antibiotics
  • Repeated operations to remove dead tissue (debridement)
  • Treatment in the intensive care unit (for severely ill people)
  • Hyperbaric oxygen therapy to improve the amount of oxygen in the blood
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What is the outlook (prognosis) for Gangrene?

What to expect depends on:

  • Where the gangrene is in the body
  • How much gangrene there is
  • The person's overall condition

The person may die if:

  • Treatment is delayed
  • Gangrene is extensive
  • The person has other significant medical problems
What are the possible complications of Gangrene?

Complications depend on:

  • Where in the body the gangrene is
  • How much gangrene there is
  • The cause of the gangrene
  • The person's overall condition

Complications can include:

  • Disability from amputation or removal of dead tissue
  • Prolonged wound healing or the need for reconstructive surgery, such as skin grafting
When should I contact a medical professional for Gangrene?

Call your provider right away if:

  • A wound does not heal or there are frequent sores in an area
  • An area of your skin turns blue or black
  • There is foul-smelling discharge from any wound on your body
  • You have persistent, unexplained pain in an area
  • You have persistent, unexplained fever
How do I prevent Gangrene?

Gangrene may be prevented if it is treated before the tissue damage can't be reversed. Wounds should be treated properly and watched carefully for signs of infection (such as spreading redness, swelling, or drainage) or failure to heal.

People with diabetes or blood vessel disease should routinely examine their feet for any signs of injury, infection, or change in skin color and seek care as needed.

What are the latest Gangrene Clinical Trials?
The Cytokines and Immune Checkpoint Differences Between Fournier Gangrene and Perianal Abscess

Summary: Although it is rarely observed, necrotizing fasciitis progresses with high mortality and serious complications. Fournier's gangrene is a specific form of necrotizing fasciitis. In laboratory tests, leukocytosis or leukopenia, anemia, lymphopenia can be observed. Perianal abscess is a surgical emergency that is observed much more frequently than necrotizing fasciitis. Although Fournier's gangrene h...

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Effect of Apical Third Enlargement to Different Preparation Sizes and Tapers of EdgeFile X7 on Postoperative Pain and Intra-canal Bacterial Reduction in Patients With Necrotic Pulp: A Randomized Clinical Trial

Summary: The aim of this prospective randomized clinical trial is to evaluate the effect of different apical size and taper preparation (35. 04; 35. 06; 45. 04 and 45. 06) on postoperative pain at 6, 12, 24, 48 and 72 hours, and intra-canal bacterial count in patients having mandibular premolars with necrotic pulps.

What are the Latest Advances for Gangrene?
Management and treatment of Fournier's gangrene. Our Emergency Department Experience and literature review.
Effect of Telmisartan on Walking Performance in Patients With Lower Extremity Peripheral Artery Disease: The TELEX Randomized Clinical Trial.
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Fournier's gangrene with prostatic and bladder trigone colliquation: a suggested treatment algorithm.
Who are the sources who wrote this article ?

Published Date: September 01, 2021
Published By: Jatin M. Vyas, MD, PhD, Associate Professor in Medicine, Harvard Medical School; Associate in Medicine, Division of Infectious Disease, Department of Medicine, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, MA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

What are the references for this article ?

Brownlee M, Aiello LP, Sun JK, et al. Complications of diabetes mellitus. In: Melmed S, Auchus RJ, Goldfine AB, Koenig RJ, Rosen CJ, eds. Williams Textbook of Endocrinology. 14th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2020:chap 37.

Bury J. Responses to cellular injury. In: Cross SS, ed. Underwood's Pathology: A Clinical Approach. 7th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2019:chap 5.

Scully R, Shah SK. Gangrene of the foot. In: Cameron AM, Cameron JL, eds. Current Surgical Therapy. 13th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2020:1047-1054.