Gangrene infection is a life-threatening condition. Given below are its types and symptoms…
Gangrene infection is a condition that is a complication of necrosis, which is characterized by cell death and decay of body tissues. This condition is brought on by infection or ischemia. Thus, this condition is brought on by either critically insufficient blood supply due to thrombosis or due to infection by Clostridium perfringens. This is a serious condition that can lead to fatal complications if not dealt with on a priority basis.
Dry gangrene disease is essentially seen in the distal part of the limb as a result of ischemia, that is, insufficient amount of blood reaching the toes and feet of elderly patients. This is generally a result of arteriosclerosis, that is, hardening of the wall of the arteries, due to which there is a disturbance in the blood flow. Thus, dry gangrene is generally seen as a result of loss of blood to a part of the body due to non-bacterial reasons. People that have an impaired peripheral blood flow due to a circulatory disorder, like peripheral vascular disease or due to diabetes, are at a greater risk of developing dry gangrene. Dry gangrene is a slow process and thus, spreads slowly till the tissue gets insufficient amount of oxygen to survive.
This type of gangrene is called so because it is shrunken, dry and dark black, often resembling mummified flesh. The tissue takes on a blackish color due to liberation of hemoglobin from hemolyzed red blood cells, which is acted upon by hydrogen sulfide produced by bacteria which forms black iron sulfide. There is a distinct line of separation between the gangrenous tissue and healthy tissue. After a while, there is deepening of this line, followed by complete separation and eventual falling of the gangrenous tissue, unless it is surgically removed. Dry gangrene infection symptoms include a dull aching sensation of coldness in the affected region. Due to deficiency of the blood supply in the region, there is pallor seen as well. If this condition is diagnosed early enough, then this process can be reversed by vascular surgery. However, once necrosis sets in, the affected tissue needs to be removed just as is the case with wet gangrene.
Wet gangrene occurs in naturally moist tissues and organs, such as mouth, gastro-intestinal tract, lungs, cervix and vulva. One common example of wet gangrene is bedsores, as these occur on body parts such as the sacrum, buttocks and heels, despite the fact that these are not necessarily moist areas. In cases of wet gangrene, the tissue is infected by saprogenic microorganisms, like Clostridium perfringens, which decays the tissue, leading to swelling and a fetid odor. Wet gangrene usually develops rapidly due to blockage of venous or arterial blood flow. The affected region gets saturated with stagnant blood which helps to promote rapid growth of bacteria. The toxins that are released by bacteria spread through the blood stream, causing septicemia. The affected part in wet gangrene is soft, edematous, putrid and there is no clear line of demarcation between a healthy tissue and gangrenous tissue.
Gas gangrene is also known as Clostridial myonecrosis, as it is caused by Clostridium bacteria. This bacteria causes the formation of gas in the tissues. It is a very severe condition and is a medical emergency. Gas gangrene infection can cause myonecrosis, production of gas and sepsis in the body. This condition eventually progresses to toxemia and shock very rapidly, which is quite fatal. Clostridium are generally found in the gut as a part of the normal flora of the gut. However, the exotoxins released by these cells are very powerful and is what causes the necrosis of tissues. This occurs when there is an open wound and bacteria enter through the wound. They go on to proliferate in the necrotic tissue and secrete toxins. The treatment generally involves debridement and excision, and if necessary, amputation.
Gangrene infection is a serious condition and is a medical emergency. If timely gangrene treatment is not meted out, then there is a possibility that amputation will be the only option left. Thus, immediate treatment is of utmost importance when dealing with this infection.