Necrotising fasciitis is a bacterial infection. In this article we explore what causes necrotising fasciitis and how it can be cured.
Necrotising fasciitis bacteria
The British Medical Journal estimates there are some 500 cases of necrotising fasciitis in the UK every year, making it a relatively rare bacterial infection.
There are different types of bacteria that can cause the condition, with the most common being the Group A Streptococcus bacteria. This is the same bacteria that cause a strep throat infection. Necrotising fasciitis can also be caused by other types of bacteria including Klebsiella, Clostridium, E. coli, Staphylococcus aureus and Aeromonas hydrophila.
How does necrotising fasciitis happen?
Necrotising fasciitis happens when one of the aforementioned types of bacteria get into the body. Normally the bacteria will enter through a break in the skin, which can be as small as a scratch or a paper cut.
Onside inside the body, the bacteria begin to reproduce. As they do so they release a chemical that causes the tissue and fascia (connective tissue) to break down. This will disrupt the blood supply, starving the tissue of oxygen and causing it to break down even further. Eventually the tissue will be so deficient in oxygen that it will die. This is called tissue necrosis.
In the absence of medical intervention, the bacteria will continue to multiply at a rapid rate. The site of infection will grow increasingly in size, resulting in more and more necrotic tissue.
How to cure necrotising fasciitis
Necrotising must be treated with intravenous antibiotics and surgical debridement of the necrotic tissue. All of the dead tissue must be removed or the bacteria will remain in the body, meaning the infection will not be cured. A number of operations may be required to excise all of the tissue.
Depending upon the extent of surgical debridement, a patient may require comprehensive follow-up care. For example, the wound will need to be packed and dressed on a regular basis, while vacuum assisted closure (VAC) may be needed to help close the wound. A plastic surgeon may also be consulted as skin grafts could be necessary.
In some cases necrotising fasciitis will be fatal. Normally this will happen if treatment is delayed and the bacteria get into the bloodstream, causing the body to go into septic shock.
Delayed treatment of necrotising fasciitis
If there is a delay in treating necrotising fasciitis and this is due to medical error, there will be grounds for a medical negligence claim. Contact us today to find out more.