Gangrene: Signs & Treatment

Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Artem Cheprasov

Artem has a doctor of veterinary medicine degree.

Gangrene is a medical condition that can be categorized into three main groups, each one having its own unique causes, signs, and treatments. Learn more about the major types of gangrene: gas, wet, and dry along with their different signs and treatments. Updated: 09/25/2021

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.

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  • 0:07 Losing Your…
  • 0:44 Dry Gangrene
  • 2:05 Wet Gangrene
  • 2:49 Gas Gangrene
  • 4:14 Lesson Summary
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Dry Gangrene

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.

Wet Gangrene

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.

Gas Gangrene

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.

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