Overview on gangrene

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Gangrene occurs when part of the body tissue dies. Take note that this often occurs since the tissues does not receive enough blood from the circulatory system.

The condition typically affects the extremities which are areas farthest from the heart such as the fingers and toes. Nevertheless, it can involve other parts of the body as well. Gangrene can also affect the internal organs as well.

It is important to note that the condition usually begins in a specific body part such as the hand, leg or even one of the interior organs. Gangrene can sweep all over the body and can lead to shock if not treated. Remember that shock can be life-threatening and considered as a medical emergency.

Always bear in mind that gangrene is a medical emergency that can result to amputations and even death. Recognition and prompt treatment of the condition can improve the outlook.

What are the types of gangrene?

Dry gangrene

All the body organs require oxygen to properly function and survive. The oxygen is transported to various parts of the body via the blood. Dry gangrene is triggered once one of the body parts could not get enough oxygen. Eventually, the affected body part starts to degenerate and die. Remember that the skin is closed and there is no indication of infection.

Wet gangrene

Always bear in mind that gangrene is a medical emergency that can result to amputations and even death.

Wet gangrene develops once the body tissues become infected by bacteria. The tissues react to the bacteria by becoming moist and breaking down which causes the death of the tissues. This is considered as an emergency due to the risk for the spread of infection to other body parts.

Gas gangrene

This is caused by the Clostridia bacterium which leads to the development of gas bubbles and toxins within the affected area. These gases are responsible for tissue death and can be fatal.

What are the potential risk factors?

An individual is likely to develop gangrene if he/she has a history of certain medical conditions including:

  • Diabetes
  • Hernia
  • Arteriosclerosis
  • Appendicitis
  • Raynaud’s disease
  • Blood clots

There are also other physical factors that increases the risk for the condition. One is likely to develop gangrene if the following are present:

  • Reduced level of immunity due to a medical condition or undergoing cancer treatment
  • Recently had surgery
  • Sustained a head injury, serious burn, animal bite or severe frostbite
  • Sustained a traumatic injury that includes crushing of the body tissues
  • Received an injection of promethazine hydrochloride that resulted to tissue damage
  • Consumption of alcohol, smoking and intravenous drug use

What are the indications?

It is vital that you know how to recognize the indications of gangrene so that immediate treatment can be started.


The initial indication of dry gangrene is a reddened line that develops around the affected tissue that might later turn black. The other indications include the following:

  • Wound is sore, red or swollen
  • Isolated area in the body feels cold
  • Wound is filled with pus or emits an undesirable odor
  • Sores that recur in the same place
  • Diminished sense of touch in an isolated region
  • A region of the skin turned into an unusual color


With this type, it affects the interior organs or tissues. There are no symptoms on the skin or limbs. Nevertheless, there is pain or unexplained fever that lasts for an extended period or low blood pressure as well as confusion.

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