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Gangrene

Gangrene is the result of a body part — usually the fingers, toes or legs — losing blood supply or succumbing to an infection. Severe gangrene can result in the loss of a limb. In some cases, gangrene can lead to septic shock, a potentially fatal condition.

Several risk factors can increase the likelihood of gangrene, including:

  • Diabetes
  • Blood vessel diseases (atherosclerosis)
  • Chronic kidney disease
  • Weakened immune system (HIV or chemotherapy)
  • Traumatic injury
  • Surgery

If gangrene affects the skin, its symptoms are readily noticeable. Such symptoms include:

  • Blue or black discoloration
  • Red or bronze discoloration if the area under the skin is affected
  • Sores with foul-smelling discharge
  • Severe pain followed by numbness

Gangrene becomes particularly dangerous if the bacterial infection within the gangrenous tissue spreads into the body, causing septic shock. Symptoms of septic shock include:

  • Fever greater than 100.4º F
  • Rapid heart beat
  • Low blood pressure
  • Confusion
  • Shortness of breath
  • Persistent or severe pain

The prognosis for gangrene is better if the condition is caught and treated early.

The Temple Limb Salvage Center specializes in treating patients who are at risk for an amputation. Using preventive medicine, medications, novel therapies and limb-sparing surgical techniques, they aim to preserve their patients' health while providing viable alternatives to amputation.