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Gangrene (cont.)

What Are the Symptoms Gangrene?

Patient Comments
  • Dry gangrene:
    • The affected area becomes cold and numb.
    • Initially, the affected area becomes red.
    • Then, it develops a brown discoloration.
    • Finally, it becomes black and shriveled.
  • Wet or moist gangrene:
    • The affected area becomes swollen and decays.
    • It is extremely painful.
    • Local oozing occurs.
    • It produces a foul-smelling odor.
    • It becomes black.
    • The affected person develops a fever.
  • Gas gangrene:
    • The wound is infected.
    • A brown-red or bloody discharge may ooze from the affected tissues.
    • Gas produced by Clostridia may produce a crackling sensation when the affected area is pressed.
    • It becomes swollen, and blisters may develop.
    • Pain in the affected area is severe.
    • The affected person develops fever, increased heart rate, and rapid breathing if the toxins spread into the bloodstream.

When Should I Call the Doctor about Gangrene?

Consult a health-care provider immediately if the following signs develop:

  • An area of the body turns blue or black.
  • A wound does not heal in seven to14 days.
  • Pain in a localized area is severe.
  • Unexplained fever is persistent.
  • Pus or blood drains from the wound.
  • A foul-smelling odor discharges from the wound.

What Are the Exams and Tests for Gangrene?

The diagnosis of gangrene is based on history, physical examination, blood tests, and other exams.

The health-care provider asks the person about any history of injury, chronic diseases (such as diabetes), surgery, cigarette smoking, and exposure to extreme cold.

Physical examination of the affected area is performed to look for signs of gangrene.

Blood test results show an increase in the number of white blood cells in persons with wet gangrene or infection.

A sample of the drainage from the wound is examined to identify the bacteria causing the infection.

An X-ray film may be performed to examine the affected tissue for the presence of gas bubbles or for bone involvement or osteomyelitis.

Imaging studies, including a CT scan and/or MRI, can help determine the extent of damage to the tissues and the amount of gas present.

In people with dry gangrene, an arteriogram may be performed to visualize any obstruction in the artery which supplies blood to the affected part.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 11/23/2016
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Patient Comments & Reviews

The eMedicineHealth doctors ask about Gangrene:

Gangrene - Treatment

What treatment has been effective for your gangrene?

Gangrene - Patient Experience

What was your experience with symptoms of gangrene?

Gangrene - Medications

Were you administered antibiotics or other medications to treat gangrene? How effective were they?


Read What Your Physician is Reading on Medscape

Fournier Gangrene »

In 1883, the French venereologist Jean Alfred Fournier described a series in which 5 previously healthy young men suffered from a rapidly progressive gangrene of the penis and scrotum without apparent cause.

Read More on Medscape Reference »


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