Gangrene, or tissue death, develops when blood flow to an area of the body is cut off. If the extremities are deprived of oxygen and nutrients, the cells will die and begin to decompose, spreading the condition to the rest of the body. There are many kinds of gangrene, but all of them are potentially life-threatening and require immediate care.
The most common kinds of gangrene in the lower limbs are:
- Dry gangrene. If blood flow to the area has been restricted for an extended period of time, dry gangrene may develop. The limb may be extremely painful and appear red or brown, eventually becoming numb and turning blue or black. The condition is usually seen in patients with diabetes, peripheral artery disease, autoimmune diseases, or other circulation problems.
- Wet gangrene. Wet gangrene is caused by an infection. An untreated wound or traumatic injury can allow bacteria to take root, causing a fever and sores that leak a foul-smelling fluid. This type of gangrene can spread quickly, may cause the body to go into shock, and may be fatal without intervention.
Surgery Is Often Needed to Remove and Control Foot Gangrene
Your podiatrist will carefully examine your affected limb to determine what type of gangrene you have and discover where the healthy tissue begins. Tissue that has died cannot be regenerated, and will have to be removed. Depending on the extent of the gangrene, surgery can range from grafting new skin to amputating the entire foot. The longer you wait to treat gangrene, the more tissue will be lost, increasing the need for amputation and extending recovery times.
The foot and ankle specialists at Greater Washington Advanced Podiatry offer free initial consultations and can create a customized treatment plan to get you back on your feet as soon as possible. Simply fill out our online contact form or call us at (301) 515-FEET to set up your first visit.