is a bacterial infection
that produces gas
. 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
is often very rapid.
Gas gangrene is caused by exotoxin
species (most often Clostridium perfringens
, but less commonly C. septicum
or C. ramnosum
), which are mostly found in soil but also found as normal gut flora
, and other anaerobes
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
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.