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Ask Dr. D. Love Your Own Question
Dr. D. Love
Dr. D. Love, Doctor
Category: Medical
Satisfied Customers: 18779
Experience:  Family Physician for 10 years; Hospital Medical Director for 10 years.
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How can someone survive who has gangrene in the foot?? this

Resolved Question:

how long can someone survive who has gangrene in the foot?? this person is 74 and has diabetes and has had a foot infection, but now someone is claiming it was gangrene --- for a year???? i don't think anyone can survive a year with gangrene, can they??
Submitted: 7 years ago.
Category: Medical
Expert:  Dr. D. Love replied 7 years ago.

No, it would be difficult to envision a situation in which gas gangrene would persist for a year without becoming worse. In studies that look at the outcomes of gas gangrene, it is virtually 100% fatal if persons in whom proper care is delayed. It is possible that there has been a different infection for a long period of time that has only recently become more complicated and gangrenous.

Customer: replied 7 years ago.
Expert:  Dr. D. Love replied 7 years ago.

I'm sorry, but the clarification did not go through. What further clarification would be helpful?

Customer: replied 7 years ago.
My daughter was in a marriage of assistance. She lives with us but married a man 74 and she is 45 as he wanted to help her financially and they were friends. She did not know what things were wrong with him but he had some medical issues. She thought he had arthritis, but he never showed her his feet or any other injuries. So he was very private, as was she.
A few months ago he was sick and his aunt had him hidden and his foot was amputated and my daughter thought he was dead. Several months later and not long ago he called my daughter and said he'd been hidden and lied to and was so drugged up that he thought all he was told was true.
The police came here and told us the other day he is dead. They thought it was suicide but we do not have an autopsy report
The police claim he had gangrene for a year and my daughter knew and therefore she caused great bodily injury.
So my question that I asked my sister who used to be a nurse was: A person could not live with gangrene long could they? I am asking you this also as I know one cannot live with gangrene for a year, but I have no idea of an average length of life with gangrene. He had the foot off so the gangrene was gone at the end before he killed himself (we assume) but in the police report it says my daughter was negligent as he had gangrene for a year.
Now with that clarification can you give me an approximate length of time a person can live with gangrene before they cut the gangrenous part off??
thank you
Expert:  Dr. D. Love replied 7 years ago.

First, lets clarify some terms. Gangrene can be used to describe two different processes. In some people there can be poor blood supply to a portion of the body (commonly the foot, but can be elsewhere), which over time can cause death of tissue. This condition is sometimes referred to as dry gangrene. There also is an infection of tissue (also frequently involving the foot, but can be elsewhere) involving certain germs that are growing in tissue causing death to the tissue. This condition is called gas gangrene or wet gangrene. This is the type of gangrene that would be associated with infection. The former condition can last for a fairly long period of time, so could have been present for a year. If he had an infectious gangrene, it could not have been present for a year. A lay person, such as the police officer, may have confused the two conditions.

There is no direct study that tries to determine how long someone will survive with a gangrenous infection of the foot without appropriate treatment, as that would be unethical, but a gas gangrene infection is highly lethal if not treated appropriately. here are studies that look at the time period before a person presents for care, but it is impossible to know when the process progressed to the point that it would be considered gangrene. Even with that limitation, the majority of patients present within 24 hours and the longest period of time before presentation was 6 weeks.

Therefore, it would be impossible for there to be a gangrenous infection of the foot for a year, but it is possible that dry gangrene was present for a longer period of time and the police officer did not know to make the distinction.

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