Necrotizing Fasciitis of the Extremities

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Abstract

Necrotizing fasciitis (NF) describes a life threatening soft tissue infection characterized by a rapid spreading infection of the subcutaneous tissue and in particular the fascia. Various synonyms for this type of infection are used, often due to the difficult diagnosis. Necrotizing fasciits of the extremities is found after simple skin lacerations and often in rural, farming or garden setting environments. Many of the infections are found in immunologically healthy people, but persons revealing a compromised wound healing are endangered additionally, e.g., diabetes. In the majority of the microbiological analyses, streptococci alone or a mixture with mainly anaerobic bacteria may be detected. The management of infected extremities requires a rapid diagnosis, dedicated aggressive surgical management as soon as possible, and a wide debridement extending the border of the infected fascia. Timely surgical revisions within the first day or days together with antibiotic treatment are the only measures to stop the infection. Depending on the status of the patient a hyperbaric oxygenation treatment seems to be useful in order to limit the infection. In fulminated cases early amputations, maximal intensive care treatment of the septic patient are required, where all means are warranted to save the patients life. As a consequence, early clinical diagnoses with thorough surgical debridement of the infected liquid necrotic fascia as well as correct antibiotic treatment are needed. Secondary plastic reconstruction of the soft tissue defects will generally be required.

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