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Necrotising Fasciitis
How Common is Necrotising Fasciitis?

How Common is Necrotising Fasciitis?

Negligently-treated necrotising fasciitis can be the cause of significant compensation claims. But how common is this awful condition?

How Common is Necrotising Fasciitis?

Necrotising fasciitis is a rare but life-threatening infection. It develops when the deep, soft tissue of the body becomes infected by one of several possible pathogens, causing the rapidly-spreading destruction of that tissue.

Untreated it may prove fatal. Even with treatment, the mortality rate can be upwards of 30%.

Survivors of necrotising fasciitis are likely to carry the scars of extensive surgery. Some patients even require a limb amputation before the progress of the disease is halted.

How does someone get necrotising fasciitis?

It is not always clear how a patient has developed necrotising fasciitis nor what bacteria is responsible for the illness.

The most common way to acquire necrotising fasciitis seems to be through a wound or puncture to the skin, which gives the appropriate bacteria a way to enter the interior of the body. A cut or graze may present this opportunity. Patients undergoing surgery, where a cut is made to the skin, are also at risk of developing necrotising fasciitis.

Necrotising fasciitis can also develop following an abdominal infection which could be caused by a range of internal problems such as a bowel perforation, perforated appendix or perforated diverticulitis.

What causes necrotising fasciitis?

Necrotising fasciitis has been classified into four different types, depending on the bacteria thought to be responsible for that specific form of the illness. The two most common versions of the illness seem to be the following:

  • The most common type - Type I - seems to be caused by a combination of different bacteria and is mostly found in abdominal area. Furthermore, it appears to affect people who are already susceptible due to other health conditions.
  • The Type II form of the illness is more often found in the arms or legs and is caused by a streptococcal bacterium.

How common is necrotising fasciitis?

It is not entirely clear how common necrotising fasciitis is as it may not always be diagnosed accurately or other illnesses may be present, contributing to the patient's condition, such as sepsis, which mask its presence.

However, the annual incidence of the illness is thought to be approximately 4 cases per million people both in the UK and in the US and possibly globally.

What are the most common sites for necrotising fasciitis to develop?

Necrotising fasciitis most commonly develops in the legs, arms, abdomen or around the genital area.

Is necrotising fasciitis more common in certain groups of people?

It would seem that necrotising fasciitis is more likely to develop in patients who come into the following categories:

  • The elderly, although people of all ages can develop the condition
  • People with diabetes
  • People who are obese
  • People whose immune systems is already weakened, reducing their ability to fight off infection
  • People with heart conditions

The illness also appears to be more common in men with a ratio of 2 - 3 men to one woman suffering with the illness.

Furthermore, there is some indication that certain racial groups may be more susceptible to necrotising fasciitis.

Diagnosis and Treatment

Urgent diagnosis that a patient may be suffering with necrotising fasciitis is vital to the possible survival of that patient. If treatment is delayed whilst the underlying cause is investigated, it may alter the outcome for the patient from survival to death.

Broad-spectrum intravenous antibiotics are recommended to try to help manage the condition. If the specific bacteria responsible are subsequently identified, the antibiotic treatment can be amended accordingly.

However, surgery is often the only way to achieve a definitive diagnosis by identifying the necrotic tissue.

Emergency surgery is also required in order to remove all damaged tissue in an attempt to stop the further spread of the infection through the body's tissue. Indeed, delayed surgery is likely to increase the chances of a poorer outcome.

Medical Negligence

If you or a loved one have suffered from the destructive and devastating effects of necrotising fasciitis due to delayed diagnosis or treatment, contact Glynns Solicitors.

We are a specialist medical negligence legal practice and our experienced solicitors would happy to discuss your case and advise whether it would be suitable to make a claim for compensation.

Please call us free on 0800 234 3300 (or from a mobile 01275 334030) or complete our Online Enquiry Form.

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