Necrotizing Soft Tissue Infection

Necrotizing Soft Tissue Infection
Necrotizing Soft Tissue Infection

Overview Of Necrotizing Soft Tissue Infection

Necrotizing Soft Tissue Infection is a rare but very severe type of bacterial infection. It can destroy the muscles, skin, and underlying tissue. The word “necrotizing” refers to something that causes body tissue to die.

Commonly Associated With

Necrotizing fasciitis; Fasciitis – necrotizing; Flesh-eating bacteria; Soft tissue gangrene; Gangrene – soft tissue

Causes Of Necrotizing Soft Tissue Infection

Many different types of bacteria can cause this infection. A very severe and usually deadly form of this infection is due to the bacteria Streptococcus pyogenes, which is sometimes called “flesh-eating bacteria” or strep.

Necrotizing soft tissue infection develops when the bacteria enters the body, usually through a minor cut or scrape. The bacteria begin to grow and release harmful substances (toxins) that kill tissue and affect blood flow to the area. With flesh-eating strep, the bacteria also make chemicals that block the body’s ability to respond to the organism. As the tissue dies, the bacteria enter the blood and rapidly spreads throughout the body.

Symptoms Of Necrotizing Soft Tissue Infection

Symptoms may include:

  • Small, red, painful lump or bump on the skin that spreads
  • A very painful bruise-like area then develops and grows rapidly, sometimes in less than an hour
  • The center becomes dark and dusky and then turns black and the tissue dies
  • The skin may break open and ooze fluid

Other symptoms may include:

  • Feeling ill
  • Fever
  • Sweating
  • Chills
  • Nausea
  • Dizziness
  • Weakness
  • Shock

Exams & Tests

The health care provider may be able to diagnose this condition by looking at your skin. Or, the condition may be diagnosed in an operating room by a surgeon.

Tests that may be done include:

  • Ultrasound
  • X-ray or CT scan
  • Blood tests
  • Blood culture to check for bacteria
  • An incision of the skin to see if pus is present
  • Skin tissue biopsy and culture

Treatment Of Necrotizing Soft Tissue Infection

Treatment is needed right away to prevent death. You’ll likely need to stay in the hospital.

Treatment includes:

  • Powerful antibiotics are given through a vein (IV)
  • Surgery to drain the sore and remove dead tissue
  • Special medicines called donor immunoglobulins (antibodies) to help fight the infection in some cases

Other treatments may include:

  • Skin grafts after the infection goes away to help your skin heal and look better
  • Amputation if the disease spreads through an arm or leg
  • Hundred percent oxygen at high pressure (hyperbaric oxygen therapy) for certain types of bacterial infections