What is Gangrene

Gangrene is defined as a localized death and decomposition of body tissue, resulting from obstructed circulation or bacterial infection. Foot gangrene, as a part of diabetes or atherosclerosis, has become a major medical problem. When gangrene sets in, an amputation needs to be performed.

An amputation, one of the oldest surgical procedures, usually refers to the surgical removal of the whole or part of a lower or upper extremity - a foot/leg or a hand/arm. Amputation, however, should be attempted only after all forms of treatment have been exhausted. The vast majority of amputations are performed due to vascular disease.

Blockages in the arteries result in insufficient blood supply to the limb. When narrowing or hardening of the arteries becomes severe, gangrene develops and amputation may be the only option Because diabetes can cause vascular blockages, about 30 - 40 percent of amputations are performed in diabetics. The estimated risk for major amputation in diabetics is 15 to 40 times higher than the general population.

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