Gangrene is death of a tissue due to obstructed blood supply. The reduced blood supply could be due to injury or infection. It can also be due to certain conditions like diabetes, hypertension, etc. that affect blood circulation.
Gangrene typically starts in the extremities like feet, fingers and hands. It can be either dry or wet. Wet gangrene is caused by infection and dry gangrene is due to restricted blood supply. Certain bacterial infections produce gas within tissues and cause gas gangrene. People with diabetes are more prone to dry gangrene and the initiation site is often the toes of the feet.
Gangrene may cause a change in colour of the affected area from pale or red to brown or black. There may be loss of sensation or numbness. As gangrene advances it may be extremely painful. There may be development of blisters with foul odour discharge. Gangrene needs to be treated before it progresses to complete death of tissue. Dry gangrene is often treated by restoring the blood flow to the affected area. Treatment options are vascular surgery, bypass surgery and nutritional revascularization. Antibiotics may be used to treat and prevent infections. Hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) has proven to be an effective treatment for healing diabetic gangrene. When tissue death has occurred, surgical removal of the affected tissue (debridement) is done which may be followed with a reconstructive surgery. Amputation is the last resort for treating gangrene when it has progressed beyond repair.