Dry gangrene that mainly affects the arms and the legs, is the result of poor circulation of blood, making the blood-deprived tissues dead.
Dry gangrene is a condition in which the blood supply to a specific area of the body such as the feet, is partially or completely cut off. The acute shortage of blood circulation destroys the tissue, leaving it dead or non functional. Medical conditions such as deep vein thrombosis and arteriosclerosis that interfere with normal blood flow, are responsible for causing dry gangrene. On the other hand, wet gangrene occurs due to an open wound that is left untreated.
Although this condition can develop anywhere, reports show that it generally affects the feet (toes) and the hands (fingers). Also, in most cases, the condition remains localized and unlike wet gangrene, it does not spread to the other body parts.
Change in color of the affected skin is the most common symptom. Skin discoloration (as it is deprived of blood supply) is distinctly visible in these patients and normal skin color changes, to either blue or black. This is followed by swelling and persistent pain in the affected area. If this medical condition occurs in the feet, then walking will certainly become a painful task.
Apart from trauma (accident) that damages the blood vessels, other medical conditions that can cause dry gangrene, are given below:
When a blood clot develops inside a blood vessel (vein, capillary, artery), it does not allow proper flow of blood, resulting in poor blood circulation in that area. When this condition affects the vein located deep in the inner layers of the skin, it is referred to as deep vein thrombosis (DVT), which may eventually cause gangrene.
This condition robs the arteries of their flexibility. The arteries do the job of transporting oxygenated blood from the heart to different tissues of the body. In this condition, the arteries lose their elasticity and become stiff. This condition causes inflammation of the walls of arteries, thus narrowing the passage of blood circulation. This unexpected change in arteries hinders normal blood flow and may lead to dry gangrene. High cholesterol and elevated blood pressure are some of the most common causes of arteriosclerosis.
Smoking has been linked to the development of peripheral vascular disease (PVD), a condition that damages the blood vessels of the arms and legs. PVD restricts normal flow of blood, which may also lead to this type of gangrene.
This is the most sought after treatment and involves removing the tissues that have become victims of poor blood supply. The surgeon takes out the dead tissues and corrects the blood flow by repairing the damaged blood vessels. In case of thrombosis, generally, anticoagulants are administered to get rid of the blood clot. A vascular surgeon may also be called to treat diseases associated with blood vessels.
Antibiotics may also be prescribed to prevent the onset of any bacterial infection. These medications are given intravenously, so that the condition does not worsen and progress to wet gangrene.
In some cases, the superficial skin also gets damaged, due to late intervention of treatment. In such cases, the surgeon does a skin graft, a procedure that replaces damaged upper layer of the skin, with healthy skin, removed from another part of the body.
Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is solely for educating the reader. It is not intended to be a substitute for the advice of a medical expert.