Latest report shows a variable increase in proportion patients undergoing major limb amputation due to gangrene. It shows that one of every 300 people in U.S. is undergoing a major limb amputation and this ratio is likely to increase in coming years. It shows that this increasing rate is a resulting product of poor management towards diabetes, especially in adults who smoke.
Gangrene is death of tissue, usually as a result of loss of blood supply. It affects a small area of skin, but can also affect for example, a finger or even a substantial portion of a limb.
Pain - This is felt in the dying tissues in the first stage, but once the tissues are dead the limb become numb. The affected skin and underlying tissue turn black resulting in the formation of bacterial infection, causing the gangrene to spread and releasing unpleasant smell.
Other symptoms include: redness, swelling, and oozing pus around the blackened area.
Gangrene are of two types:
> Dry gangrene, and
> Wet gangrene.
In dry gangrene there is usually no bacterial infection; the deprived area dies because its blood supply is blocked. This type of gangrene does not spread to other tissues. It may be caused by arteriosclerosis (hardening of small blood vessels) diabetes mellitus, thrombosis (clot inside a blood vessel) an embolism (a bleb of air inside blood vessel).
Wet gangrene develops when dry gangrene becomes infected by bacteria. A particularly virulent type-known as gas gangrene is caused by a dangerous strain of bacteria that destroys muscles and produces a foul smelling gas. Gas gangrene has caused millions of deaths in war.
Dry gangrene can be cured with antibiotic drugs. These antibiotics prevents dry gangrene from setting in.
In wet gangrene, amputation of the affected part is unavoidable. Usually some of the adjacent living tissue must be removed as well.