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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.
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.
|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.|