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Fournier’s gangrene – analysis of management and outcome in south-eastern Nigeria

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Background. Fournier’s gangrene is a necrotising fasciitis of the genitalia and perineum, with associated polymicrobial infection and risk of organ failure or death. The purpose of this study was to determine the presentation, systemic and local predisposing factors, management challenges and outcome in south-eastern Nigeria. Patients and methods. We studied 28 out of 34 consecutive male patients with complete case notes seen in two centres (the University of Nigeria Teaching Hospital and St Mary’s Hospital) between January 1995 and December 2008. Operating theatre registers and urology ward admission registers were used to identify patients. Results. The mean patient age was 48.3 years (range 28 - 66 years), with a peak age incidence of 50 - 59 years. The majority of patients were farmers, manual labourers and artisans. The site of gangrene was scrotal in 22 patients (78.6%), penoscrotal in 3 (10.7%), abdominoscrotal in 2 (7.1%) and scroto-perianal in 1 (3.6%). The mean interval between onset of symptoms and presentation was 7.2 days (range 3 - 14 days). Systemic predisposing factors identified were diabetes mellitus in 6 patients (21.4%), filariasis in 2 (7.2%), congestive cardiac failure in 1 (3.6%) and HIV infection in 1 (3.6%). In 18 patients (64.3%) no systemic factor was identified. Local predisposing factors identified were chronic scrotal skin itching in 16 patients (57.1%), scrotal thorn injury in 2 (7.1%) and urethral catheterisation in 2 (7.1%). Scrotal carbuncle and scrotal surgery each accounted for 2 patients (7.1%), and zipper injury and ischiorectal abscess occurred in 1 patient each (3.6%). No local predisposing factor was identified in 1 patient (3.6%). The common clinical features were fever, scrotal swelling/pain, and later a malodorous painless wound. Treatment involved fluid administration, correction of electrolyte imbalance, antibiotics, debridement and daily wound inspection/dressing with hydrogen peroxide soaks and sodium hypochlorite. The mean duration of hospital stay was 37.1.days (range 21 - 84 days). One patient died (3.6%). Conclusion. Fournier’s gangrene is a challenging surgical problem, with significant morbidity. Diabetes mellitus is a significant systemic risk factor. In the majority of our cases, no systemic predisposing factor was identified. Local risk factors, especially chronic scrotal itching, were contributory. With proper management, mortality is low. SAJS, VOL 50, NO. 1, february 2012


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