Gangrene

(Dry Gangrene; Gas Gangrene; Organ or Tissue Death; Wet Gangrene)

Definition

Gangrene is the progressive death of body tissue resulting from infection and a lack of blood supply. When the blood supply is cut off, the tissue does not get enough oxygen and begins to die.Gangrene can be internal or external. The 2 most common types of gangrene are:
  • Dry gangrene—Lack of blood supply causes the tissue to die.
  • Wet gangrene—Usually occurs when the tissue is infected with bacteria from an injury. The tissue becomes moist and breaks down.
A rare wet type, called gas gangrene or clostridial myonecrosis, develops from specific bacteria deep inside the body. Gas gangrene can be a result of surgery or trauma.

Causes

Gangrene is caused by infection or a reduced blood supply to tissues.

Risk Factors

Gangrene is more common in older adults.Other factors that may increase your chance of gangrene include:
  • Poorly controlled health conditions, such as diabetes or atherosclerosis, which may affect blood vessels
  • Health conditions or medications that suppress the immune system
  • Perforated bowel
  • Severe trauma
  • Surgery
  • Smoking
  • Obesity
  • Excessive alcohol use
  • IV drug use

Symptoms

External gangrene may cause:
  • Color changes, ranging from white, to red, to black
  • Shiny appearance to skin
  • Foul-smelling, frothy, clear, or watery discharge
  • Shedding off of skin
  • Severe pain followed by loss of feeling in the affected area
Internal gangrene may cause:
  • Fever and chills
  • Confusion
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Lightheadedness or fainting, which may be caused by low blood pressure
If the gangrene is widespread, sepsis can occur.
Gangrene of the Foot
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Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.

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