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Clinical Director Hope Fine, RRT-CHT

Gas Gangrene

Gas gangrene is an acute painful necrotic condition of the soft tissues usually associated with trauma of surgery, but it may occur spontaneously. It is due to infection with various species of gas forming anaerobic organisms and is also referred to as clostridial myonecrosis.

Clostridia are putrefactive, gram positive anaerobic spore forming and encapsulated bacilli comprising more then 150 species. Clostridia thrive in tissues that have low oxygen tensions as a result of trauma or ischemia. They release exotoxins that set a vicious cycle in motion: there is tissue edema around the area of necrosis, which further diminishes the blood supply and oxygen tension and diminishes the number of leukocytes, leading to rapid spread of the necrotizing process.

The essentials of treatment of gas gangrene are:

General supportive measures for seriously ill patients
Tissue perfusion, oxygen, and fluid, as well as electrolyte balance have to be maintained
High doses of antibiotics
Surgery – the main objective is the removal of necrotic tissue and blood
Hyperbaric oxygen treatment for Gas Gangrene

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