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Necrotising Fasciitis
Necrotising Fasciitis as a Result of Surgery

Necrotising Fasciitis as a Result of Surgery

A recent study in the Netherlands, published in the World Journal of Emergency Surgery, analysed the histories of 58 patients with necrotising fasciitis and identified that 14 of the patients had developed the condition following surgery. That is approximately 25% of the study group.

What is necrotising fasciitis?

Necrotising fasciitis is a potentially fatal infection that spreads rapidly through the subcutaneous, soft tissue layers inside the body. The bacteria associated with necrotising fasciitis release toxins which attack and destroy the tissue it affects. This can lead to blood-poisoning, the destruction of major organs and death.

Why are surgical patients susceptible to necrotising fasciitis?

The condition can be caused by a variety of bacteria which can exist elsewhere on and in the body without being life-threatening. However, once the bacteria enter the deep tissue of the body, they become aggressive and invasive.

Therefore, for necrotising fasciitis to have an opportunity to attack the body's inner tissue, it needs a means of entry. This could be as simple as an insect bite or a graze. However, a far greater opportunity may be provided when a patient is undergoing surgery where a larger wound to the body may be created, albeit intentionally.

Another significant factor is the likelihood that a patient undergoing surgery in hospital may also have a weakened immune system due to the disorder that has required surgery. This means that the patient will be less able to combat the necrotising fasciitis bacteria.

Injections and intravenous procedures may also offer a route of entry for the necrotising fasciitis bacteria.

Are certain types of surgery more likely to result in necrotising fasciitis?

Necrotising fasciitis has been reported following a variety of operations, frequently in the abdominal area, such as:

  • Removal of the appendix or gallbladder
  • Kidney transplant
  • Gynaecological operations
  • Hernia repair
  • Vasectomy and hysterectomy

Since necrotising fasciitis is frequently associated with the abdominal and genital area, as well as the extremities, it seems logical that surgery in that area could be a significant factor.

However, the above-mentioned research also referred to a patient who developed necrotising fasciitis after the removal of a lump from the breast.

The research also found that there was no difference in whether the operation was 'contaminated' such as bowel removal, or a 'sterile' operation such as a hernia repair.

Medical Negligence

Although rare, necrotising fasciitis is known to be a hazard around surgical operations. Medical practitioners therefore need to be alert to the possible presence of associated bacteria both before and after the operation. Hygiene around the operation and monitoring of the patient following the operation are vital.

Where the patient develops necrotising fasciitis as a result of poor hygiene in hospital, medical negligence may have occurred.

If the patient develops symptoms of necrotising fasciitis which go unheeded, leading to significant physical damage, it may be a case of medical negligence.

Speak to a solicitor

If you have experienced the horrific long-term effects of necrotising fasciitis and feel that poor medical care contributed to your negative outcome, you may be entitled to make a claim for compensation.

Contact us at Glynns Solicitors, specialists in medical negligence, to discuss your circumstances.

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

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