Gas gangrene is a critical medical
condition due to bacterial infection within the tissues. This “infection causes
toxins to form in the tissues, cells, and blood vessels of the body. These
bacteria will release toxins that cause tissue death and release a gas” (Pietrangelo).
Gas gangrene is more prone to happen when bacteria is able to get into an open wound
that was either from an injury or a previous surgery. Gangrene could also happen
if the body tissues have weakened and bacteria is able to get inside. The bacterium
is “an anaerobic, gram-positive, spore-forming bacillus of the genus
This bacterium is rod-shaped. The symptoms of this disease are very severe as
it is acutely difficult to treat.
The severity of this condition is
life-threatening as if not taking care of in a shortly manner, the symptoms
could worsen. “The incubation period is usually less than 24 hours but has been
described to be anywhere from 7 hours to 6 weeks. When symptoms start, clinical
deterioration can occur within hours” (Wang). This is why it is very
crucial to take care of this condition as soon as you notice any form of symptoms.
These symptoms consist of “increased heart rate, fever, air under the skin,
pain or swelling in the area around a wound, blisters with foul-smelling
discharge, excessive sweating, vomiting and yellow skin and eyes (jaundice) is
a late sign. Skin in the affected area also becomes pale and then later changes
to dark red or purple” (Pietrangelo). When a person has seen any of the
above signs, it is important that they go to the emergency room as “delaying
treatment can lead to shock, kidney failure, and coma” within hours. (Pietrangelo).
This condition is able to spread at such a fast pace that in just a couple of minutes,
you are able to see the changes in the skin.
The treatment of this condition has to be
done as soon as the symptoms occur. “Once a diagnosis is made, high doses of
antibiotics will be administered intravenously, or through a vein” (Pietrangelo).
If the symptoms are more severe, treatment might be done before a test can be
performed. “In severe cases of gas gangrene, amputation of a limb may be
necessary to prevent the infection from spreading to the rest of your body” (Pietrangelo).
After this, the patient might be fitted for an artificial limb as a
replacement. Another form of treatment is the use of hyperbaric oxygen therapy.
“This type of therapy involves breathing pure oxygen in a pressurized chamber
for about 90 minutes” (Pietrangelo) This form of therapy “steadily increases
the amount of oxygen in your blood, helping infected wounds to heal faster” (Pietrangelo).
The prognoses of gas gangrene are “mortality rates for patients with gas
gangrene from trauma or surgery are as high as 25%, but increase to 50-80% for
patients injured in natural hazards. This can be improved with better and more
rapid recognition of the disease followed by early treatment of gas gangrene” (Tidy).
It is best to learn all that you can about gas gangrene so that it could be prevented.
The foremost way of preventing this condition is to practice proper hygiene. “If
you have an injury, make sure to clean the skin thoroughly and to cover the wound
with a bandage” (Pietrangelo). Whenever you go to the doctors, it is crucial to
also listen to what your doctor say, to follow their instructions and to take your
antibiotics to prevent any infections.