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Necrotising Fasciitis
Necrotising Fasciitis Due to Missed Appendicitis

Necrotising Fasciitis Due to Missed Appendicitis

Appendicitis is a common illness which is usually easily resolved with keyhole surgery. However, where the symptoms are missed and the appendix bursts, the impact can be life-threatening.

What is Appendicitis?

The appendix is a small pouch-like appendage attached to the digestive tract whose purpose is unknown and whose surgical removal is generally highly successful. The appendix is usually located near the point where the small intestine becomes the large intestine.

Occasionally, the appendix can become inflamed, causing increasingly intense pain in the lower right abdomen. This is known as appendicitis and, once diagnosed, the solution is usually the removal of the appendix through keyhole surgery (a laparoscopic appendectomy).

How can appendicitis lead to necrotising fasciitis?

If appendicitis is not treated promptly, however, the condition can worsen. This can lead to the perforation of the appendix (a burst appendix), accompanied by spreading pain, nausea and vomiting. This is a medical emergency due to the possible on-going complications of this event.

Because the appendix is attached to the large intestine, faecal matter and bacteria can spread into the abdominal cavity, causing infection. This can cause peritonitis, sepsis and necrotising fasciitis.

Cases of necrotising fasciitis following a perforation of the appendix have resulted in infection spreading into the abdominal wall, to the chest, kidney, the organs within the peritoneum and the right thigh.

What are the symptoms of necrotising fasciitis?

Once the bacteria have reached the deeper tissue of the body, necrotising fasciitis will spread rapidly, destroying the tissue in its path. This can soon lead to multiple organ failure and death, so urgent diagnosis and treatment are vital.

The symptoms of necrotising fasciitis include:

  • Intense pain in the area of the infection
  • Redness and swelling in the area of the infection
  • Flu-like symptoms of fast heartbeat and a high temperature or chills

Necrotising fasciitis can occur anywhere in the body but is frequently seen in the abdomen and lower limbs. The flu-like symptoms should suggest an infection and, alongside pain and swelling should raise the possibility of a serious condition such as necrotising fasciitis. This development is especially likely in patients whose immune system is already weakened such as the elderly or those with chronic illnesses such as diabetes.

What treatment is necessary?

Treatment for necrotising fasciitis needs to begin as soon as diagnosis is made. At this point, it may not be known what specific bacteria are causing the infection but broad-spectrum antibiotics should be administered intravenously to try to stem the development of the infection.

Surgical removal (debridement) of any and all affected tissue is also necessary to try to stop the damage from spreading. This can involve several surgical procedures to ensure that all infected tissue is removed and may even require amputation of a limb.

Medical Negligence

Necrotising fasciitis is a very rare complication of a perforated appendix but it is associated with a very high mortality rate and requires urgent diagnosis and treatment if there is to be any chance of survival.

It can be difficult to diagnose the condition as it can be confused with other illnesses and, sometimes, surgical investigation is the only way to reach a definite diagnosis. Due to its high associated mortality rate, however, where there is any suspicion of necrotising fasciitis, further investigations should be undertaken.

Have you been affected by necrotising fasciitis?

If you or a loved one have been the victim of the appalling effects of necrotising fasciitis that went undiagnosed, you may be able to make a claim for compensation. Whilst it will not resolve your on-going effects, it may make them easier to cope with.

Contact Glynns Solicitors to discuss your circumstances. We are a team of solicitors, specialising in medical negligence and we have supported many claims for negligent diagnosis and treatment of necrotising fasciitis.

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