Synonyms: Tissue death

Medical Specialties: Endocrinology, Internal medicine, Oncology

Clinical Definition

Necrosis is the localized death of living tissue caused by lack of blood or oxygen and cannot be attributed to programmed cell death. 

In Our Own Words

Necrosis is when cells die due to lack of oxygen or blood, rather than a normal, programmed cell death. Necrosis can be caused by many factors, including trauma, radiation or chronic disease.


When the cause is a lack of blood supply, it is known as gangrene. Patients with uncontrolled diabetes are at a higher risk for gangrene, for example, because infections may not get enough blood to heal properly.

Relevant Conditions
  • Amputation
  • Diabetes
  • Traumatic injury
  • Vascular disease
Common Types
  • Wet/dry gangrene
  • Gas gangrene
Share this article
  • Cleveland Clinic. “Foot and Skin Related Complications of Diabetes.” Accessed July 2013.
  • Golstein P., Kroemer G. National Center for Biotechnology Information, NIH. “Cell death by necrosis: towards a molecular definition.” Accessed July 2013.
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