BACK TOTOP Browse A-ZSearchBrowse A-ZABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ0-9 E-mail FormEmail ResultsName:Email address:Recipients Name:Recipients address:Message: Print-FriendlyBookmarksbookmarks-menuGas gangreneTissue infection - clostridial; Gangrene - gas; Myonecrosis; Clostridial infection of tissues; Necrotizing soft tissue infectionGas gangrene is a potentially deadly form of tissue death (gangrene).GangreneGangrene is the death of tissue in part of the body.ImageRead Article Now Book Mark Article Causes Gas gangrene is most often caused by bacteria called Clostridium perfringens. It also can be caused by group A streptococcus, Staphylococcus aureus, and Vibrio vulnificus.Clostridium is found nearly everywhere. As the bacteria grow inside the body, it emits gas and harmful substances (toxins) that can damage body tissues, cells, and blood vessels.Gas gangrene develops suddenly. It usually occurs at the site of trauma or a recent surgical wound. In some cases, it occurs without an irritating event. People most at risk for gas gangrene usually have blood vessel disease (atherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries), diabetes, or colon cancer.AtherosclerosisAtherosclerosis, sometimes called "hardening of the arteries," occurs when fat, cholesterol, and other substances build up in the walls of arteries. ...ImageRead Article Now Book Mark Article Symptoms Gas gangrene causes very painful swelling. The skin turns pale to brownish-red. When the swollen area is pressed, gas can be felt (and sometimes heard) as a crackly sensation (crepitus). The edges of the infected area grow so quickly that changes can be seen over minutes. The area may be completely destroyed.Symptoms include:Air under the skin (subcutaneous emphysema) Subcutaneous emphysemaSubcutaneous emphysema occurs when air gets into tissues under the skin. This most often occurs in the skin covering the chest or neck, but can also...Read Article Now Book Mark Article Blisters filled with brown-red fluid Drainage from the tissues, foul-smelling brown-red or bloody fluid (serosanguineous discharge) SerosanguineousSerosanguineous means contains or relates to both blood and the liquid part of blood (serum). It usually refers to fluids collected from or leaving ...Read Article Now Book Mark Article Increased heart rate (tachycardia) TachycardiaA bounding pulse is a strong throbbing felt over one of the arteries in the body. It is due to a forceful heartbeat.ImageRead Article Now Book Mark Article Moderate to high fever Moderate to severe pain around a skin injury Pale skin color, later becoming dusky and changing to dark red or purple Swelling that worsens around a skin injury Sweating Vesicle formation, combining into large blisters VesicleA vesicle is a small fluid-filled blister on the skin.ImageRead Article Now Book Mark Article Yellow color to the skin (jaundice) If the condition is not treated, the person can go into shock with decreased blood pressure (hypotension), kidney failure, coma, and finally death.ShockShock is a life-threatening condition that occurs when the body is not getting enough blood flow. Lack of blood flow means the cells and organs do n...ImageRead Article Now Book Mark Article Kidney failureAcute kidney failure is the rapid (less than 2 days) loss of your kidneys' ability to remove waste and help balance fluids and electrolytes in your b...ImageRead Article Now Book Mark Article Exams and Tests The health care provider will perform a physical exam. This may reveal signs of shock. Tests that may be done include: Tissue and fluid cultures to test for bacteria including clostridial species Blood culture to determine the bacteria causing the infection Gram stain of fluid from the infected area X-ray, CT scan, or MRI of the area, which may show gas in the tissuesX-rayX-rays are a type of electromagnetic radiation, just like visible light. An x-ray machine sends individual x-ray particles through the body. The im...ImageRead Article Now Book Mark Article CTA computed tomography (CT) scan is an imaging method that uses x-rays to create pictures of cross-sections of the body. Related tests include:Abdomin...ImageRead Article Now Book Mark Article MRIA magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan is an imaging test that uses powerful magnets and radio waves to create pictures of the body. It does not us...ImageRead Article Now Book Mark Article Treatment Surgery is needed quickly to remove dead, damaged, and infected tissue.Surgical removal (amputation) of an arm or leg may be needed to control the spread of infection. Amputation sometimes must be done before all test results are available.Antibiotics are also given. These medicines are given through a vein (intravenously). Pain medicines may also be prescribed. In some cases, hyperbaric oxygen treatment may be tried.Hyperbaric oxygen treatmentHyperbaric oxygen therapy uses a special pressure chamber to increase the amount of oxygen in the blood.Read Article Now Book Mark Article Outlook (Prognosis) Gas gangrene usually begins suddenly and quickly gets worse. It is often deadly. Possible Complications Complications that may result include:Coma Delirium DeliriumDelirium is sudden severe confusion due to rapid changes in brain function that occur with physical or mental illness.ImageRead Article Now Book Mark Article Disfiguring or disabling permanent tissue damage Jaundice with liver damage Kidney failure Shock Spread of infection through the body (sepsis) Stupor StuporDecreased alertness is the most severe state of reduced awareness and is a serious condition. A coma is a state of decreased alertness from which a p...Read Article Now Book Mark Article Death When to Contact a Medical Professional This is an emergency condition requiring immediate medical attention.Contact your provider if you have signs of infection around a skin wound. Go to the emergency room or call the local emergency number (such as 911), if you have symptoms of gas gangrene. Prevention Clean any skin injury thoroughly. Watch for signs of infection (such as redness, pain, drainage, or swelling around a wound). See your provider promptly if these occur.Open ReferencesReferencesHenry S, Cain C. Gas gangrene of the extremity. In: Cameron AM, Cameron JL, eds. Current Surgical Therapy. 13th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2020:862-866.Onderdonk AB, Garrett WS. Diseases caused by clostridium. In: Bennett JE, Dolin R, Blaser MJ, eds. Mandell, Douglas, and Bennett's Principles and Practice of Infectious Diseases. 9th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2020:chap 246.AllVideoImagesTogGas gangrene - illustration Gas gangrene is a severe form of gangrene (tissue death) caused by the bacterium Clostridium perfringens. Patients with underlying vascular diseases are more prone to spontaneously develop gas gangrene, which is rapidly progressive and often fatal.Gas gangreneillustrationGas gangrene - illustration Gas gangrene is a severe form of gangrene (tissue death) caused by the bacterium Clostridium perfringens. It generally occurs at a wound or surgical site, causing painful swelling and destruction of involved tissue. Gas gangrene is rapidly progressive and often fatal.Gas gangreneillustrationBacteria - illustration Bacterial infections can lead to the formation of pus, or to the spread of the bacteria in the blood.BacteriaillustrationGas gangrene - illustration Gas gangrene is a severe form of gangrene (tissue death) caused by the bacterium Clostridium perfringens. Patients with underlying vascular diseases are more prone to spontaneously develop gas gangrene, which is rapidly progressive and often fatal.Gas gangreneillustrationGas gangrene - illustration Gas gangrene is a severe form of gangrene (tissue death) caused by the bacterium Clostridium perfringens. It generally occurs at a wound or surgical site, causing painful swelling and destruction of involved tissue. Gas gangrene is rapidly progressive and often fatal.Gas gangreneillustrationBacteria - illustration Bacterial infections can lead to the formation of pus, or to the spread of the bacteria in the blood.BacteriaillustrationRelated Information Necrotizing soft tissue infection(Condition)Anaerobic(Special Topic)Toxins(Special Topic)Necrosis(Special Topic)Vasoconstriction(Special Topic)Systemic(Special Topic)Stress and your health(Symptoms)Shock(Injury)Acute kidney failure(Condition)Decreased alertness(Symptoms)Anxiety disorders(In-Depth) Review Date: 11/23/2021 Reviewed By: Jatin M. Vyas, MD, PhD, Associate Professor in Medicine, Harvard Medical School; Associate in Medicine, Division of Infectious Disease, Department of Medicine, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, MA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team. The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- © 1997- All rights reserved. A.D.A.M. content is best viewed in IE9 or above, Firefox and Google Chrome browser.Content is best viewed in IE9 or above, Firefox and Google Chrome browser.