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Gangrene

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Updated May 14, 2008

Gangrene Photo © A.D.A.M.
Definition:

Gangrene is a condition that involves the death and decay of tissue, usually in the extremities. There are three different types of gangrene: dry, wet or gas gangrene. Dry gangrene is the one that most often affects people with diabetes. Reduced blood flow or lack of circulation resulting from diabetes, cardiovascular problems, and smoking are the most common causes. Bacterial infections can also lead to gangrene.

Toes, feet, lower limbs and sometimes fingers can all become vulnerable to the conditions that may cause gangrene. Symptoms include numbness in the affected part and it will also be cold to the touch.

At first, the area will become reddened but it gradually progresses to a brownish color. The skin may appear waxy. In the final stage, the affected body part will look withered and black in color. Gangrene is treatable if the symptoms are recognized early, before the death of tissue occurs. After tissue dies, removal of the dead tissue or amputation is the usual treatment.

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