Artem has a doctor of veterinary medicine degree.
Losing Your Extremities and Life
Diabetes, mountain climbing, infection, and smoking. I'll give you a few moments to think about what all of those have in common. It's a serious condition that can cause you to lose your fingers, toes, arms, and legs. In severe cases, it may even result in your death! The worst part of it is that there are many different terrible ways by which this can occur.
The condition I am talking about is called gangrene, which is the formal term for the death of body tissue due to injury, infection, or disease.
People suffering from a condition called diabetes are predisposed to getting a form of gangrene associated with poor circulation in the hands and feet that results in dry, bluish-black tissue known as dry gangrene.
Any condition, not just diabetes, that causes poor circulation to any area of the body will cause this type of gangrene. The reason why this occurs is sort of simple to understand at the basic level.
Think of the blood vessels as streets in a city, the red blood cells traveling along these streets as semi-trucks and the food they are carrying as the oxygen bound to red blood cells. Well, if you do not get food delivered via the semi-trucks because the roads are in really poor condition, you're going to starve! If you starve, you will die. Likewise, if you have poor circulation, not enough red blood cells get through to your body's tissues, which means that little oxygen gets through, causing the death of the tissues.
In addition, I'm sure you can understand that our body's tissues, like a plant that isn't watered, will shrivel and turn dry when not 'watered' by the blood. That's why it's called dry gangrene. Dry gangrene typically doesn't have an infectious cause but may develop one later if not properly controlled.
However, when an infectious agent or trauma causes swelling, blistering, and an overall wet appearance to dead tissue, we term it wet gangrene. This type of gangrene may occur after a burn, with a bacterial infection, and through many other causes.
The reason this type of gangrene is called wet is because it typically produces a lot of pus, the icky yellow stuff that is a byproduct of infection. If you've ever had a zit that you popped, then you know what pus is. It's the wet, yellow-white stuff that squirts out all over the place. Now you'll never forget why wet gangrene is called wet. Sorry for the icky example.
Anyways, another type of gangrene is called gas gangrene. This is a type of gangrene that occurs when trauma leads bacteria to cause a gas producing infection.
For example, if you were to run around on a field playing football, only to fall onto a sharp object that cuts deep into your thigh, you'll be predisposed to developing gas gangrene.
In this form of gangrene, a type of bacterium, called Clostridium perfringens, may enter into the traumatized tissue. Once it enters into a deep wound, it releases toxins, called exotoxins, which will begin to destroy the surrounding tissue, generating gas in the process. One such famous toxin is known as the alpha toxin. In any case, the gas that accumulates in the tissue may feel and sound like bubble wrap when touched.
And while the bubble wrap analogy may seem innocent enough, like wet gangrene, gas gangrene is a super dangerous condition that needs to be treated immediately or death can occur in short order.
Regardless of which type of gangrene a person may be affected with, treatment includes getting rid of the dead tissue via surgery and antibiotic therapy. Amputation of infected toes, fingers, and limbs is not uncommon in cases of advanced gangrene.
Recall that gangrene is the formal term for death of body tissue due to injury, infection, or disease. There are three main form of gangrene.
A form of gangrene associated with poor circulation in the hands and feet that result in dry, bluish-black tissue is known as dry gangrene.
When an infectious agent or trauma causes swelling, blistering, and an overall wet appearance to dead tissue, we call it wet gangrene.
An infection can also cause gas gangrene, which is a type of gangrene that occurs when trauma leads bacteria to cause a gas producing infection. In this form of gangrene, a type of bacterium, called Clostridium perfringens may enter into the traumatized tissue. Once it enters into a deep wound, it releases toxins called exotoxins, which will begin to destroy the surrounding tissue, generating gas in the process.
After watching this lesson, you should be able to identify and explain the causes and signs of the three major types of gangrene.
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