Gangrene is a medical condition that occurs when a large mass of body tissue dies (called necrosis). The affected area usually appears black, green and/or a yellow color. There are many types of the condition including dry, wet, internal and gas gangrene. It is considered to be a very serious condition and often leads to amputation of the affected area. It is probably best known for occurring after a serious case of frostbite, but there are many other more common conditions that lead to gangrene.
What is the cause of gangrene?
There are a number of causes of gangrene. The most common is a lack of blood supply to the affected tissues and this causes the massive cell death found in gangrene cases. A severely insufficient blood supply can be caused by certain conditions such as obstructed arteries or a blocked blood vessel (thrombosis). There are a number of risk factors for developing these conditions including diabetes and long term smoking.
The cause of gas gangrene and wet gangrene is bacterial infection. The most common bacteria known to cause gas gangrene is Clostridium perfringens and this condition is usually fatal. This bacteria may enter the muscle through a wound and begin to multiply. It releases powerful toxins and these destroy the nearby tissue. Clostridium perfringens is also one of the known causes of wet gangrene.
Did you know?
The name comes from Latin and Greek words gangraena and gangraina, which means the “putrefying of tissues” and has no connection with the green color commonly observed in the dead tissue!
Clostridium perfringens is commonly found in decaying vegetation, soil and even the human digestive system. It is also known for causing food poisoning.