ABC Medical Center > Gangrene

What is Gangrene?

21:54 - 4 May , 2021


It is organic tissue necrosis caused by serious bacterial infections or by lack of blood circulation, which usually affects arms, legs, feet, and hands, but also attacks internal organs and muscle tissue.

Diseases such as diabetes or atherosclerosis that affect blood circulation are important risk factors for gangrene, which can be treated with antibiotics, hyperbaric oxygen therapy, and surgery to restore blood supply and remove necrotic tissues.

When diagnosed and treated promptly, the chances of healing and minimizing damage are greater.

Gangrene classification:

  • Wet: there is a serious bacterial infection with a wet appearance that produces inflammation and blistering. If not treated quickly, it spreads to other parts of the body with deadly consequences.
  • Gas: attacks muscles, so may be harder to spot at first. The bacterial infection causes gases that necrotize the tissues and can be fatal if not treated properly.
  • Dry: typical of diabetics or patients with vascular diseases, the skin becomes rough and dry, acquiring a dark coloration that can reach black.
  • Internal: appears when blood stops flowing to an internal organ, being life-threatening.
  • Fournier’s gangrene: affects the genitals and its origin is usually a urinary tract infection.
  • Meleney’s gangrene: is a rare type that develops from a complication after surgery.

Signs and symptoms Gangrene

  • Severe pain in the affected area.
  • Foul sores.
  • Skin thinning and glow.
  • Changing skin color depending on the type of gangrene, being able to reach black.
  • Inflammation.
  • Appearance of blisters.
  • Cold sensation on the skin.
  • High fever.

Septicemia can occur when the infection spreads to other areas and has the following symptoms:

  • Low blood pressure.
  • Temperature elevated or below normal.
  • Elevated heart rate.
  • Confusion.
  • Trouble breathing.

Gangrene is an extremely serious condition, which requires urgent treatment. Failure to receive it will require amputation of affected limbs or risk of a life-threatening generalized infection.

Potential risks:

  • Smoking.
  • Overweight and obesity.
  • Weakened immune system.
  • Diabetes.
  • Cardiovascular diseases.
  • Head injury.
  • Surgeries.

Diagnosis and treatment Gangrene

Tests to diagnose gangrene include blood tests, cultures to determine the type of bacteria, x-rays, CT scans, and MRIs.

Depending on the gangrene’s level of progression and origin, treatment options range from antibiotics, hyperbaric oxygen therapy, and surgery (debridement, grafting, and amputation).

At ABC Medical Center’s Internal Medicine Department, we offer health care services with the highest quality and safety, from the prevention, diagnosis, timely treatment, and monitoring of infectious, respiratory, endocrinological, dermatological, rheumatic, nephrological, gastrointestinal, and hematological pathologies of both chronic-degenerative diseases and acute conditions, through a comprehensive and multidisciplinary model.


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  • medlineplus.gov
  • cun.es
  • topdoctors.es
  • cigna.com
  • medigraphic.com
  • Morales CR. Gangrena de Fournier. Enfermedades del Ano, Recto y Colon. 2007;13(2):36-41.
  • Álvarez DHT, Savigne GWO, Fernández MJI, et al. Gangrena isquémica de miembro inferior. Revista Cubana de Angiología y Cirugía Vascular. 2020;21(3):1-8.
  • Vargas RT, Mora ASÁ, Zeledón AAS. Gangrena de Fournier: generalidades. Revista Médica Sinergia. 2019;4(06):100-107.
  • Bolaños TOF, Saldarriaga RLM, Forero GJE, et al. Gangrena simétrica periférica asociada a norepinefrina en una paciente con urosepsis por Escherichia coli. AMC. 2018;22(3):341-348.

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