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Necrotising Fasciitis
Necrotising Fasciitis Presentation

Necrotising Fasciitis Presentation

Necrotising fasciitis has a confusing clinical presentation as it can mimic other conditions in the early stages. Medical practitioners must therefore recognise the progression of the patient's symptoms, as this will help them make an accurate diagnosis.

What does necrotising fasciitis look like?

Necrotising fasciitis will progress very rapidly. At first there will be very general symptoms, and within days the patient can be critically ill. Below we explore the clinical picture of each stage:

1. Early stages

In the first 24 hours of getting the infection, a patient with necrotising fasciitis will present with the following symptoms:

  • Severe pain that has no obvious cause, or is disproportionate to any injury present
  • Skin that is red, hot to touch and swollen at the site of the pain
  • Fever

2. Advanced stages

After 24 hours the infection will take hold and the patient will present with visible skin changes, with symptoms such as:

  • Skin that has turned darker red/purple/black in colour
  • Pus-filled blisters on the surface of the skin
  • Diarrhoea and vomiting
  • Continuing pain that is extremely intense
  • Continuing fever

3. Critical stages

Without treatment, it will only be a matter of days before the patient becomes critically unwell. The infection will spread to the blood and the patient will present with the symptoms of sepsis, including:

  • Mental confusion
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Blotchy/mottled skin
  • Breathlessness
  • Continuing discoloration of the skin, which will grow in size
  • Continuing pain
  • Continuing fever

Recognising the presentation of necrotising fasciitis

While necrotising fasciitis has very vague symptoms to begin with, the signs are still indicative of a soft tissue infection. Symptoms such as unexplained tissue pain, fever and swelling are all characteristic of a soft tissue infection and should prompt doctors to explore the problem further. This might include close monitoring of the patient or exploratory surgery.

If a diagnosis is not made in the early stages, it should not be long before clinicians realise that a very serious infection is present. The patient will soon deteriorate and there will be obvious signs of tissue death that can be seen by the naked eye. This should prompt immediate exploratory surgery, which should in turn lead to a diagnosis of necrotising fasciitis.

Failure to understand necrotising fasciitis presentation

Unfortunately medical practitioners do not always understand the patient's symptoms when they present. This can result in the patient being sent away without an accurate diagnosis. Or a patient may be admitted to hospital, but the correct treatment is not provided.

This is very dangerous as necrotising fasciitis has to be treated early to prevent life-threatening complications such as sepsis and amputation.

If you or your loved one has suffered because necrotising fasciitis was not diagnosed and treated quickly, please contact us at Glynns Solicitors to find out if you can make a claim.

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