Gas gangrene and related infection: classification, clinical features and aetiology, management and mortality. A report of 88 cases

Br J Surg. 1977 Feb;64(2):104-12. doi: 10.1002/bjs.1800640207.

Abstract

The clinical features of gas gangrene and related infection seen in 88 patients over a 10-year period are described. It is suggested that clostridial infection could be simply classified as either 'gas-forming' or 'non-gas-forming'. The gas-forming group represents the more severe form of infection. Non-clostridial gas gangrene may present in a variety of forms. The anaerobic streptococcus was the organism most frequently responsible, but these cases were indistinguishable from clostridial infection on clinical grounds. The treatment of gas gangrene in this series of patients is reported. Emphasis is laid on the importance of adequate prophylaxis with penicillin in patients at risk. The value of antibiotics in established infection remains equivocal. The evidence supporting the value of hyperbaric oxygen therapy is assessed and an attempt made to quantify the response to this treatment. Benefit was apparent in only a proportion of patients. A favourable response indicated clostridial infection and guaranteed immediate survival. Extensive debridement or amputation is unnecessary in this group. No response following hyperbaric oxygen therapy indicated widespread mixed clostridial and non-clostridial infection, or infection due to organisms other than clostridia. Urgent and extensive debridement and amputation remain the predominant measures in this group.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Amputation
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / therapeutic use
  • Child
  • Clostridium Infections / complications*
  • Clostridium Infections / drug therapy
  • Clostridium Infections / prevention & control
  • Clostridium perfringens / isolation & purification
  • Debridement
  • Drainage
  • Escherichia coli / isolation & purification
  • Female
  • Gas Gangrene / etiology*
  • Gas Gangrene / microbiology
  • Gas Gangrene / surgery
  • Humans
  • Hyperbaric Oxygenation
  • Leg / surgery
  • Male
  • Middle Aged

Substances

  • Anti-Bacterial Agents