Gangrene

Synonyms: Tissue death

Medical Specialties: Emergency medicine, Internal medicine, Surgery


Clinical Definition

Gangrene is the death of tissue in part of the body because it has lost its blood supply as the result of injury, infection or other causes. Gas gangrene, a severe form that can progress rapidly and become lethal, is caused by the bacterium Clostridium perfringens and is more likely to affect those with underlying vascular disease.


In Our Own Words

Gangrene, the death of tissue in part of the body, occurs due to lack of blood supply. Symptoms may include skin discoloration, discharge or numbness. Foul odors are common.

 

The condition requires immediate evaluation and treatment to reduce the need of amputating the affected body part. Gangrene can occur after an injury, during infection or for other reasons. Those with a serious injury, blood vessel disease, diabetes or a suppressed immune system (from HIV or chemotherapy) are at higher risk of gangrene, as are patients who have undergone surgery.

 

Treatment may include antibiotic medicine, a procedure to boost blood supply to the area and surgery to remove the dead tissue or to perform an amputation.

Relevant Conditions
  • Diabetes
  • Amputation
  • Trauma
  • Bacterial infection
Side Effects
  • Blue or black skin
  • Discharge with bad odor
  • Numbness
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sources
  • Harvard Health Publications. "Medical Dictionary of Health Terms." http://www.health.harvard.edu. Accessed August 2013.
  • University of Maryland Medical Center. "Gangrene." Updated May 2013. http://umm.edu. Accessed August 2013.
  • University of Maryland Medical Center. "Gas gangrene." Updated May 2013. http://umm.edu. Accessed August 2013.
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