What is Gangrene?
What is Gangrene? Gangrene is a condition that occurs when body tissues die. This serious condition generally originates from the most end of body parts such as limbs, toes, or fingers. However, gangrene can also occur in muscles and internal organs.
Inhibition of blood circulation is a major cause of gangrene. Blood flow not only carries nutrients and oxygen If blood does not flow smoothly and freely throughout the body, our cells will die. Coupled with infection in the area that is not handled, the surrounding tissue will die, resulting in gangrene.
The condition may be triggered by various factors. Some of these include:
- Severe injuries and surgical wounds.
- Diabetes. High sugar levels can damage the nerves and blood vessels.
- Disorders of blood vessels, such as Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD), or atherosclerosis (arterial narrowing and blockage of fatty deposits in the arteries).
- Obesity. In addition to gangrene, obesity can also increase the risk of other diseases.
- Raynaud’s phenomenon, a condition in which the blood vessels that supply blood to the skin (especially, on the toes or fingers) have an abnormal reaction to cold temperatures.
- Weak immune systems (eg in people living with HIV), malnutrition, chronic alcoholism, drug use, and chemotherapy. In the group of people, even mild infections can turn serious and trigger gangrene.
Types of Gangrene
Gangrene is divided into several categories based on the cause. The 4 main categories of gangrene are as follows.
- Dry gangrene that occurs due to inhibition of blood flow to certain body parts.
- Wet gangrene is triggered by injury and bacterial infections.
- Gas gangrene that attacks muscle tissue. The bacteria cause the release of gas, so the skin will eventually form air bubbles, such as blisters.
- Internal gangrene due to inhibition of blood flow to internal organs.
Symptoms of Gangrene
Gangrene has a wide range of symptoms, depending on the cause. In general, gangrene symptoms may include:
- Initially visible signs of red infection and swelling.
- In the internal gangrene, the affected part feels very sick or numb (loss of touch sensation at all).
- Appearing wounds or blisters that are bloody or accompanied with a foul-smelling pus.
- The skin on the affected area appears wrinkled and dry, and is clearly bounded with healthy skin areas.
- Skin color changes, such as pale, red, purple, or even black.
Gangrene is a serious condition requiring emergency treatment. Immediately to the hospital if you experience any of the above symptoms.
People with gangrene also have high potential for septic shock due to bacteria entering the bloodstream. This condition will trigger blood pressure that drops drastically and life-threatening.
Gangrene Diagnosis Process
In the early stages of the examination, the doctor will check the patient’s physical condition and injury, and ask the patient’s and family’s medical history. To confirm the diagnosis, the doctor may also recommend some further tests such as:
- Blood tests to check for infection.
- Sampling tissue, fluid, or blood from the wound. If needed, a small operation will be performed to take tissue samples from the inside of the affected organ. This step is done to check the spread of gangrene in the body.
- MRI or CT scan.
Gangrene Treatment Method
Networks that have experienced gangrene can not be cured anymore. Therefore, handling gangrene as early as possible will increase your chances of recovery. The steps of gangrene treatment generally include:
- Operation. This step is used to remove dead tissue so that the spread of gangrene can be prevented, while allowing healthy tissue to recover. Skin grafts will then be performed to repair damaged skin by gangrene. However, sometimes there are people with gangrene who are forced to undergo amputation, especially in severe gangrene conditions. Surgery to repair blood vessels for smooth blood flow and blood supply is also possible.
- Handle or prevent infection with antibiotics in the form of drinking or intravenous drugs.
- Hyperbaric oxygen therapy, ie healing process using oxygen-pure oxygen chamber or tube strong. Increased levels and oxygen pressure will allow the blood to carry more oxygen so that bacterial development can be slowed.
Gangrene can be avoided if handled before tissue damage occurs.
Some preventive steps we can do is:
- Controlling the condition of the cause of gangrene. For example, maintaining foot health in people with diabetes or atherosclerosis. Check with your doctor if there are any injuries, infections, or discoloration of the skin on your feet.
- Apply a healthy lifestyle, for example by avoiding fatty foods to prevent fat accumulation in blood vessels, lose weight to ideal numbers, and exercise routine.
- Quitting smoking because smoking can trigger clogging of the arteries.
- Prevent infection. Treat and keep open wounds clean and dry until cured to avoid infection.
- Limit alcohol consumption. The recommended limit of alcohol consumption in a day is 2-2.5 cans of alcoholic beer 4.7 percent for men, and a maximum of 2 cans of alcohol content 4.7 percent for women.