Emergent Gas Gangrene

Gas gangrene is an emergent case where a bacterium, most commonly Clostridium perfringens grows inside the body and produces harmful toxins and gas causing tissue death. It can be caused by other bacteria such as Group A streptococcus, Staphylococcus aureus and Vibro vulnificus.

Gas gangrene most often occurs at a wound site, recent surgical site or trauma site. It can develop suddenly and rapidly accelerate causing irreversible tissue damage.

Symptoms of Gas Gangrene

 Change in color of the skin to a pale to brownish-red color

 

 Crepitus– gas can be felt as a cracking sensation when pressing on the swollen area

 

 Brown fluid filled blisters

 

 Fever

 

 Sweating

If not treated immediately a person can go into shock which will lead to kidney failure and eventually lead to death.

Diagnosis

Gas Gangrene can be diagnosed by clinical examination. To confirm the presence of Clostridium bacteria a tissue culture may be taken. Blood cultures can also be used to determine a bacteria infection. X-rays can be used to identify the presence of gas in the soft tissue.

Treatment

Gas gangrene is an emergent case and surgical intervention is required. Surgical debridement of the damaged and infected tissue must be removed. In severe cases partial amputation may be required to prevent further spread of the infection. IV antibiotics will be prescribed. In some cases hyperbaric oxygen (HBO) treatment may be implemented. Clostridium bacteria cannot survive in an oxygen rich environment and therefore HBO can be used to kill the bacteria.

Dr. Farshid Nejad