Dangers of Thrombosis
I’m posting this in genral PE, at penismith’s request, so that everybody can see it. It appeared in an injury thread started by penismith (Multi-clamp numbness!), and my intent is not to alarm anybody but to alert them on the possible dangers of thrombosis (more common with extreme PE).
In the 17th and 18th centuries infection was thought to be caused by bad air. Open wounds were prone to infection and blood poisoning, often leading to gangrene. One surgeon, Joseph Lister, explored ideas in the mid 1860s that it wasn’t bad air but germs that caused infection. By using a primitive form of antiseptic and insisting on cleanliness, cases of gangrene dramatically reduced.
What is gangrene?
Gangrene is the death of body tissue in a localized area.
It’s not green – the skin turns black and oozes pus in parts of the body that are affected. We commonly think of gangrene as occurring in an arm or a leg, but wherever there’s body tissue gangrene can set in. The fingers and toes are the most common parts of the body to be affected, although internal body tissue can also turn gangrenous.
Types of gangrene
Gangrene can be dry or moist.
Disturbance of the blood supply to body tissue causes dry gangrene. A poor blood supply or no blood supply altogether leads to tissue death. Injury is a common reason for dry gangrene.
Toxin-producing bacteria destroying body tissue is called moist gangrene. The clostridium bacteria can produce lethal toxins in a wound - this is known as gas gangrene. The skin looks as if it has bubbles of gas beneath it. With this type, pus and infection spreads rapidly.
Injury blocking or destroying the blood supply to body tissue can result in gangrene.
Diabetes, smoking, thrombosis, frostbite and severe burns also disrupt the blood supply. Drinking excess alcohol damages blood vessels.
Old age is another possible factor. People at a risk of developing gangrene should exercise their fingers and toes regularly and wear well-fitting shoes. One of the key points of management is to ensure scrupulous foot care, including nail-cutting by a chiropodist.
Restoring the blood supply is vital with dry gangrene. Prescribing anticoagulants prevents the blood from clotting and taking antibiotics will thwart moist gangrene infection.
Patients have to rest and are prescribed pain relievers. As Joseph Lister proved, it’s especially important to keep wounds clean. Previous generations used maggots, nowadays we’ve swapped them for antiseptic dressings.
Providing it’s diagnosed early and treated swiftly most people make a full recovery without the need for amputation. As always, prevention is better than a cure. Keep wounds clean and sterile to prevent gangrene setting in.
Dead body tissue must be removed so as not to infect tissue in surrounding areas. This can result in gangrenous fingers or toes needing to be amputated. In extreme cases, where gangrene has spread and not responded to other treatments, amputation of the limb is necessary. Gas gangrene is the most dangerous form of gangrene and has to be treated quickly.”