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Fournier's Gangrene

Topic Overview

Fournier's gangrene is a serious, life-threatening infection of the male genital area. The infection usually starts in the skin of the genitals (penis or scrotum), the urethra, or the rectal area.

There are several conditions that may lead to this infection. Frequently an injury or burn to the area occurred before the infection. Genital surgery, a sexually transmitted infection (STI), or a problem with the urethra also may precede this infection. Men with certain conditions are at higher risk for developing Fournier's gangrene. These conditions include:

Symptoms include:

  • Swelling and redness.
  • Tissue that looks deeply bruised but is actually dead (necrotic).
  • Drainage of pus with a bad odor.
  • Pain.
  • Fever.
  • Pain with urination.
  • Problems passing urine.
  • Possible shock.

This infection is a medical emergency. It is treated with antibiotics, and surgery is usually needed to remove dead (necrotic) tissue.

Credits

By Healthwise Staff
William H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine
David Messenger, MD
Last Revised March 1, 2013

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