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Gangrene

Death of tissue, often cause by loss of blood supply. Gangrene can affect a large portion of a limb or a small area of skin.

Symptoms and types

Pain is felt as the tissue dies, but once dead they become numb. The affected tissue turns black. There are two types of gangrene: wet or dry.

In dry gangrene, there is often no infection and the tissue dies due to it having no blood supply. This type of gangrene will not spread. It can be caused by diabetes mellitus, arteriosclerosis, thrombosis, frost bite or an embolism.

Wet gangrene occurs when a wound or an area of dry gangrene becomes infected by bacteria. Redness, oozing and swelling can occur around the blackened tissues. The gangrene spreads, and the area gives out a foul odour. A virulent type called gas gangrene is caused by a bacterium that kills muscles and produces a unpleasant smelling gas.

Treatment

Treatment of dry gangrene involves trying to improve the circulation to the infected area before the tissues decease. Anti-biotic drugs can stop wet gangrene from arising. To treat wet gangrene amputation of the surrounding tissue and affected parts could be required.


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