My watch list  

Gas gangrene

Gas gangrene
Classification & external resources
ICD-10 A48.0
ICD-9 040.0
DiseasesDB 31141
eMedicine med/843  emerg/211 med/394
MeSH D005738

Gas gangrene is a bacterial infection that produces gas within tissues in gangrene. It is a deadly form of gangrene usually caused by Clostridium bacteria. It is a medical emergency.



Gas gangrene can cause myonecrosis, gas production, and sepsis. Progression to toxemia and shock is often very rapid.


Gas gangrene is caused by exotoxin-producing Clostridial species (most often Clostridium perfringens), which is mostly found in soil but also found as normal gut flora, and other anaerobes (e.g. Bacteroides and anaerobic streptococci). The exotoxin is commonly found in C. perfringens type A strain and is known as alpha toxin. These environmental bacteria may enter the muscle through a wound and go on to proliferate in necrotic tissue and secrete powerful toxins. These toxins destroy nearby tissue, generating gas at the same time.

A gas composition of 5.9% hydrogen, 3.4% carbon dioxide, 74.5% nitrogen and 16.1% oxygen was reported in one clinical case.[1]


Treatment is usually debridement and excision with amputation necessary in many cases. Antibiotics alone are not effective because they don't penetrate ischemic muscles enough to be effective. However, penicillin is given as an adjuvant treatment to surgery. In addition to surgery and antibiotics, hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) is used and acts to inhibit the growth of and kill the anaerobic C. perfringens.


  1. ^ ^ Chi CH, Chen KW, Huang JJ, Chuang YC, Wu MH (1995). "Gas composition in Clostridium septicum gas gangrene". J Formos Med Assoc 94 (12): 757-9. PMID 8541740.

This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Gas_gangrene". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.
Your browser is not current. Microsoft Internet Explorer 6.0 does not support some functions on Chemie.DE