Gangrene

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

Definition

Gangrene is the progressive death of body tissue resulting from 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 two 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, 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. Factors that may increase your chance of developing gangrene include:

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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