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Problems in the Diagnosis and Treatment of Gas Gangrene

AMA Arch Surg. 1957;74(6):839-845. doi:10.1001/archsurg.1957.01280120017002.
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Certain current problems are contributing to critical delays in the diagnosis of gas gangrene and limitations of its treatment. As a result, this infection continues to be one of the most dreaded complications of wounds of violence with its rapid and fulminating course, profound toxemia, mutilating effects, and high mortality.

The infrequency of the occurrence of gas gangrene in civilian surgical practice has added to the difficulty. Although recent studies of the bacterial flora of accidental and war wounds have shown the presence of clostridial contamination to be 3.8% to 88.0%,1,2 depending upon the type of wound, the incidence of clinical gas gangrene has been relatively infrequent. In a compiled series of 187,936 major open wounds,1 the average incidence of gas gangrene was 1.76%, varying between 0.3% and 5.26%. Since surgeons are confronted with this condition so infrequently, they are often unfamiliar with the early signs and symptoms


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