Gangrene: Types of Gangrene, Causes, Symptoms and Treatments
Gangrene is a serious, life threatening condition in which body tissue dies due to lack of blood supply. There are many types of gangrene conditions and which can cause pain,swelling, numbness or skin colour changes.
Types of Gangrene:
- Wet gangrene – Here, the tissue swells up and gets blisters
- Dry gangrene – Here, the tissue dries up and falls off. It is most commonly seen at the ends of the fingers and toes.
- Gas gangrene – Here the bacteria infect tissue and causes gas bubbles inside it.
Dry gangrene: Symptoms
- Pale or dark looking skin
- Hard, dry skin and tissue
- Cool feeling skin
Wet Gangrene – Symptoms:
- Wet looking tissue
- Dark skin
- Foul smell
Gas Gangrene – Symptoms
- Blisters – Clear or turn red, purple, or blue
- Tissue which gives a crackling sound on pressing
- Severe pain
- Numbness or heavy feeling in the area
- Flu like symptoms
Gangrene Warning signs
Certain warning signs need to be looked for and treatment should be seeked immediately in cases of
- Hard or numb area on a finger or toe
- Any skin changes or wound on your foot that is not healing, specially if you are a diabetic
- After an injury/surgery, if pain increases in that area, you feel ill or the skin changes color , it maybe a sign of infection which if not treated properly, may cause gangrene.
Depending upon whether you have dry gangrene or wet gangrene you may have to undergo the following tests:
- Blood tests – These tests are done to find out if there is infection. The results can confirm if gangrene or an infection is causing symptoms.
- CT scan or MRI Imaging: These tests are done to see images of inside the body. If there is gas in the tissue,it is a sign of gas gangrene.
- Blood flow measurement tests – These tests can show doctors if there is any obstruction of flow of blood through blood vessels and how serious is the problem.
- Antibiotics are given into a vein to treat the infection.
- Scraping and excision of dead/dying tissue – This prevents the spread of gangrene. This has to be done on a daily basis for sometime till complete healing occurs.
- Amputation – This is a surgery where the surgeon excises parts of body such as toes, feet etc that are infected by gangrene.
Prevention of Gangrene
Diabetic patients should monitor their blood sugar regularly. Long standing high sugars can cause nerve, eyes, kidney damage. Taking good care of your feet is important. Infected foot injury can cause gangrene.