Diseases of the Foot

Gangrene is necrosis and subsequent decay of body tissues caused by infection or thrombosis or lack of blood flow. It is usually the result of critically insufficient blood supply, sometimes caused by injury and subsequent contamination with bacteria. This condition is most common in the extremities. The best of all possible treatments is revascularization (restoration) of the affected organ, which can reverse some of the effects of necrosis and allow healing. Depending on the extent of tissue loss and location, treatment other than revascularization runs the gamut from allowing digits to auto-amputate (fall off), debridement and local care, to amputation, the removal of infected necrotic tissues.

Gangrene caused by a serious bacterial infection in a wound is called wet gangrene.

Gangrene caused by lack of circulation in an injured or diseased area is called dry gangrene

Treatment is usually surgical debridement and excision with amputation necessary in many cases. Antibiotics alone are not effective because they do not penetrate ischemic muscles sufficiently. However, penicillin is given as an adjuvant treatment to surgery. In addition to surgery and antibiotics Hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) is used and acts to inhibit the growth of and kill the anaerobic C. perfringens.