Call your doctor right away if you have symptoms of gangrene. Depending on the severity of your symptoms, you may be told to go to the emergency room or to call 911 or your local emergency number for medical help.
If you have time before you leave home or on the way to the hospital, use the information below to get ready for your medical evaluation.
What you can do
- Write down any symptoms you're experiencing, and for how long. It will help your doctor to have as many details as possible about when your symptoms first appeared and how they may have worsened or spread over time.
- Write down any recent injury or trauma to your skin, including cuts, bites, injections, surgery or possible frostbite. If you have recently used injectable recreational drugs, this is critical information to share with your doctor.
- Write down your key medical information, including any other conditions with which you've been diagnosed. Also write down all medications, vitamins or supplements that you're taking.
- Take a family member or friend along. Gangrene is a medical emergency. Take someone with you to help you remember all of the information your doctor provides and who can stay with you if you need immediate treatment.
- Write down questions to ask your doctor.
For gangrene, some basic questions to ask your doctor include:
- What's the most likely cause of my symptoms or condition?
- What kinds of tests do I need?
- Do I need to be hospitalized?
- What treatments do I need?
- How soon do you expect my symptoms will improve with treatment?
- Will I have a full recovery? If so, how long will recovery take?
- Am I at risk of long-term complications?
Don't hesitate to ask your doctor if you have any additional questions.
What to expect from your doctor
Your doctor is likely to ask you a number of questions to help determine the next steps in making your diagnosis and starting care. Your doctor may ask:
- What are your symptoms?
- When did you first begin experiencing symptoms?
- How painful is the affected area?
- Do your symptoms seem to be spreading or getting worse?
- Have you had any recent injuries or trauma to your skin, such as cuts, wounds, bites or surgery?
- Have you recently had any prolonged exposure to extreme cold that made your skin change color or turn numb?
- Do you use injectable drugs, including recreational drugs?
- Have you been diagnosed with any other medical conditions?
- What medications are you taking or have you recently taken, including prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, herbs and supplements?
July 13, 2017
- Usatine RP, et al., eds. Dry gangrene. In: The Color Atlas of Family Medicine. 2nd ed. New York, N.Y.: McGraw-Hill; 2013. http://accessmedicine.mhmedical.com. Accessed March 13, 2017.
- Stevens D, et al. Clostridial myonecrosis. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed March 13, 2017.
- Bryant A, et al., eds. Gas gangrene and other clostridial infections. In: Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine. 19th ed. New York, N.Y.: McGraw-Hill; 2014. http://accessmedicine.mhmedical.com/content.aspx?bookid=1130§ionid=79735535. Accessed March 13, 2017.
- Conly J., eds. Soft tissue infections. In: Principles of Critical Care. 4th ed. New York, N.Y.: McGraw-Hill; 2014. http://accessmedicine.mhmedical.com. Accessed March 13, 2017.
- Tubbs RJ, et al., eds. Extremity conditions. In: The Atlas of Emergency Medicine. 4th ed. New York, N.Y.: McGraw-Hill; 2016. http://accessmedicine.mhmedical.com. Accessed March 13, 2017.
- Lipworth AD, et al., eds. Necrotizing soft tissue infections: Necrotizing fasciitis, gangrenous cellulitis, and myonecrosis. In: Fitzpatrick's Dermatology in General Medicine. 8th ed. New York, N.Y.: McGraw-Hill; 2016. http://accessmedicine.mhmedical.com. Accessed March 13, 2017.
- Schwarts BS, et al., eds. Bacterial and chlamydial infections. In: Current Medical Diagnosis & Treatment 2017. 56th ed. New York, N.Y.: McGraw-Hill; 2017. http://accessmedicine.mhmedical.com. Accessed March 13, 2017.
- Ogle JW et al., eds. Infections: Bacterial and spirochetal. In: Current Diagnosis & Treatment Pediatrics. 23rd ed. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill; 2016. http://accessmedicine.mhmedical.com. Accessed March 13, 2017.
- Mechem CC, et al. Hyperbaric oxygen therapy. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed March 27, 2017.