Types of Gangrene

The different types of gangrene are:

  1. Dry Gangrene: This type of gangrene develops slowly, most often in people who have compromised blood supply due blood vessel disease like atherosclerosis. It is characterized by dry and shriveled skin that has changed color to a purplish-black shade.
  2. This type of gangrene is not infected by any bacteria and usually doesn’t turn septic. It does result in tissue death with the dead tissue being sloughed off. The process is gradual, sometimes taking a few months, as the blood supply is gradually blocked off - as when a blood clot blocks the flow of blood to a toe, which then turns gangrenous. On rare occasions it can strike suddenly, in a matter of hours or days.

    Dry gangrene produces cool, dry and discolored or mummified appendages without the presence of any pus. It is most often caused by diseases like atherosclerosis and diabetes and by smoking.

  3. Wet Gangrene: This type of gangrene refers to affected tissue which has an accompanying bacterial infection. It is characterized by swelling, blistering and a wet appearance and can develop after a serious injury, burn or frostbite. It is common in cases of diabetic people who remain unaware of a toe or foot injury due to numbness in their feet.
  4. This type of gangrene needs to be treated immediately because of the potential for septicemia to set in, which can spread through the body and can prove to be fatal. It results from an infection which is left untreated; resulting in blood supply being compromised by a combination of factors including tissue swelling, gas production and bacterial toxins.

  5. Gas Gangrene: This type of gangrene usually affects deep muscle tissue. Initially, the surface of the skin appears normal and as it progresses, the skin may become pale and then change to a gray or a purplish-red color. The skin may have a bubbly appearance and the affected area may make a crackling sound when pressed due to the presence of gas within the tissue.
  6. Gas gangrene is usually the result of an infection with the bacterium Clostridium perfringens. It usually develops in an injury that has a depleted blood supply. The bacteria produce toxins that release gas that cause tissue death, hence the name gas gangrene. Like wet gangrene, it can prove fatal unless treated immediately.

  7. Internal Gangrene: This type of gangrene affects the internal organs like the intestines, gallbladder or appendix, hence the name. It occurs when blood flow to the organ is blocked, as in the case of a hernia causing the intestine to bulge and twist. It is characterized by fever and severe pain and can prove fatal if not treated immediately.
  8. Fournier’s Gangrene: A rare type of gangrene involving the genital organs, it usually affects men, though women too can be afflicted by it. It is caused by infection in the genital area or urinary tract and is characterized by genital pain, swelling and tenderness.
  9. Meleney’s Gangrene or Progressive Bacterial Synergistic Gangrene: Another rare type of gangrene, it usually develops after surgery and is characterized by the appearance of painful skin lesions one or two weeks after surgery.

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