Cells and tissues in the body require oxygen supplied by blood for their survival. When blood supply to tissues is inadequate or stops completely, tissues begin to die. Gangrene is a term used to describe this death of living tissue. It has been recognized since ancient times as a localized area of tissue death, although the causes were not known at that time. The word gangrene derives from the term “gangraina” used by the ancient Greeks to describe putrefaction or death of tissue.
Lay people associate the term gangrene with bacterial infection. The medical term however, includes any cause that cuts off or reduces blood supply to tissue, resulting in the death of that tissue. This implies that a person need not have a bacterial infection to be diagnosed with gangrene.
The most common areas where gangrene occurs are at the extremities that are the fingers, hands and arms and the toes, feet and legs.
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