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You are here : 3-RX.com > Medical Encyclopedia > Diseases and Conditions > Gangrene


Alternate Names : GAS Gangrene

Overview, Causes, & Risk Factors | Symptoms & Signs | Diagnosis & Tests | Prevention & Expectations | Treatment & Monitoring

Gangrene is the death of living cells or tissues of the body.

What is going on in the body?

Gangrene occurs when the blood supply to part of the body is cut off. This depletes the tissues of oxygen and they begin to die. Gangrene usually affects the extremities, such as the toes, feet, legs, fingers, hands, and arms. It may also occur in other parts of the body, including the abdomen or intestines. Gangrene usually occurs after trauma or surgery. Usually gangrene begins 24 hours to 3 days after trauma but may occur anywhere from 3 hours to 6 weeks later. As the tissue begins to die, carbon monoxide and hydrogen gases are released, causing bubbling around the tissue.

There are two types of gangrene:

  • dry gangrene, a condition in which the tissues dry and slough off because the blood vessels are no longer supplying blood to the area
  • wet or gas gangrene, which is usually caused from a bacterial infection of a wound
  • What are the causes and risks of the infection?

    Causes of gangrene include:

  • a blockage of blood to an organ or tissue
  • surgery causing tissue damage
  • trauma or injury, such as frostbite, boils, crush injuries, and severe burns, that destroys tissues in the body
  • infection of wounds, especially deep wounds
  • certain diseases that affect circulation, including atherosclerosis, diabetes, and Raynaud's disease
  • blood clots, such as a deep venous thrombosis
  • a ruptured appendix caused by appendicitis
  • an intestinal hernia
  • smoking and drinking alcohol


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    Gangrene: Symptoms & Signs

    Author: Eileen McLaughlin, RN, BSN
    Reviewer: Melissa Sanders, PharmD
    Date Reviewed: 07/24/01

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