Learning Objectives: After studying the article, the participant should be able to: 1. Describe the most common bacteriology of necrotizing fasciitis and purpura fulminans. 2. Describe the “finger test” in the diagnosis of necrotizing fasciitis. 3. Discuss the three presentation patterns of necrotizing fasciitis. 4. Discuss the pathophysiology of acute infectious purpura fulminans. 5. Discuss the treatment strategies for necrotizing fasciitis and purpura fulminans, including the use of artificial skin substitutes.
Necrotizing fasciitis and purpura fulminans are two destructive processes that involve skin and soft tissues. The plastic and reconstructive surgeon may frequently be called on for assistance in the diagnosis, treatment, and/or reconstruction of patients with these conditions. Understanding the natural history and unique characteristics of these processes is essential for effective surgical management and favorable patient outcome. A comprehensive review of the literature pertaining to these two conditions is presented, outlining the different pathophysiologies, the patterns of presentation, and the treatment strategies necessary for successful management of these massive infectious soft-tissue diseases. (Plast. Reconstr. Surg. 107: 1025, 2001.)