Gangrene (Death of Tissue) and Amputation

Author: Shelley Ensz. Scleroderma is highly variable. See Types of Scleroderma. Read Disclaimer
Causes of Gangrene
Scleroderma and Smoking
Photos of Gangrene
Personal Stories
Related Pages

Overview of Gangrene

Digital ulcers can develop gangrene and lead to amputation. Thus Raynaud's prevention and prompt and careful treatment of digital ulcers is absolutely essential.

Gangrene is the medical term for tissue death (necrosis). Types of gangrene include: Wet, Dry, Gas,and internal gangrene. Dry gangrene is due to reduced blood flow through the arteries in the arms or legs. It appears gradually and usually does not involve infection. The affected tissue becomes shriveled, dry and dark in color.

Anti–IFI16 antibodies in scleroderma are associated with digital gangrene. Anti–IFI16 antibodies are associated with digital gangrene in scleroderma. PubMed, Arthritis Rheumatol, 12/29/2015.

Digital Amputation in Systemic Sclerosis: Prevalence and Clinical Associations. We noted that 4.8% of patients with systemic sclerosis (SSc) underwent digital amputation. The preventive strategy for digital ulcers and amputation associated with SSc should include an extensive diagnostic and preventive investigation for peripheral atherosclerosis. The Journal of Rheumatology vol. 39 no. 8 1648-1653, June 2012. (Also see What is Scleroderma?)

Significant attenuation of macrovascular involvement by bosentan in a patient with diffuse cutaneous systemic sclerosis (SSc) with multiple digital ulcers and gangrene. Stenosis of the ulnar artery, evaluated by magnetic resonance angiography, was attenuated by the bosentan treatment, suggesting that bosentan exerts a reverse remodeling effect against the pathological organic changes of arteries in SSc. Yohei Ichimura, Modern Rheumatology, March 15, 2011. (Also see Digital Ulcer)

Causes of Gangrene

Causes of Gangrene. The death of tissue that defines gangrene begins when a section of the body loses its blood supply. It is often the result of a serious accident in which an arm or leg is crushed. Less commonly, it follows an internal blockage, such as a clogged or obstructed artery. HealthSquare

Systemic Scleroderma, Smoking and Gangrene

Severe cases of scleroderma and Raynaud's may cause a total lack of blood supply to the extremities. When this happens, digital ulcers, necrosis (death of tissue) and gangrene may set in, sometimes making it necessary to have the affected part(s) amputated.

Gangrene sets in more frequently among scleroderma patients who smoke or use caffeine, because such substances further constrict blood vessels.

Photos of Gangrene

Gangrene in FingertipsGangrene Photos ISN Photo Repository

Amputation/Gangrene Personal Stories

Some of these stories are included in the ISN's Voices of Scleroderma book series.

Anita A: Sister of Systemic Scleroderma Patient She has had a heart transplant and a kidney transplant. It has been amazing to our family the courage and stamina that she has through all that she has endured…

Aziz: Surviving Son of Gangrene Patient (India) What I am writing now is something even more horrible than what you might have read in a Stephen King's scariest of novels. My father died of gangrene…

Bill: Diffuse Scleroderma I was relieved to have a label for my condition but the doctor was not very reassuring telling me that there was no effective cure or treatment…

Bill Jordan: Surviving Boyfriend of Scleroderma Patient Wendy was heartset on dancing that evening even though she was connected to an oxygen machine…

Cheryl: Surviving Daughter of Systemic Sclerosis Patient Around three o'clock in the morning when all her pain medication finally gave her a reprieve, she looked over and asked me to come sit next to her so that she could see me…

Crissie: Surviving Sister of Scleroderma Patient Seek out a doctor who specializes in this disease as soon as you know you have it…

Doni: CREST Syndrome The doctors were always interested like, "Wow look at this," but since I had no insurance, they would not touch me…

Johnny: CREST Scleroderma I have just won the fight to save my left foot. I spent the previous year and half fighting to save my big toe, but it had to go, because the pain was so unbearable…

Judy King: CREST Syndrome A neurosurgeon performed a Digital Sympathectomy on my right hand and, thank God, my finger was saved…

(Update) Kathy Baker: CREST - Systemic Scleroderma Two weeks later I was back in surgery where he amputated the entire index finger…

Linda W: Surviving Daughter of Scleroderma Patient All she wanted was for others to learn of this disease and know her story. She requested this about two weeks before she died…

Lynn F: Raynaud's and Scleroderma So on November 11th my finger was amputated just above the top knuckle. Unfortunately, an infection set in…

Lynsey: Daughter of Patient with Scleroderma and Lupus My mother has had all but four fingers amputated, all of her toes on her left foot and her right leg up to her knee has been amputated…

Matilda: Systemic Scleroderma (South Africa) I don't think there is a lot of support in South Africa and I would actually like to start a group where people with the same disease can meet and discuss how they cope with the illness…

Nathalie: Lupus/Scleroderma I arrived at the hospital with two black fingers. They had gangrene and I was very worried about having an amputation…

Pam: Systemic Scleroderma for 27 Years (Australia) I have had several amputations…

Rebecca: CREST, Fibromyalgia, Sjogren's and Pulmonary Hypertension My finger has gangrene and the hand specialist says it needs to look like a mushroom before they will amputate…

Sarah B: CREST Scleroderma I lost the tips of my baby finger and thumb. The other three fingers do not look too pretty, either…

Sbirulino: Limited Systemic Sclerosis, First Stage Biliary Cirrhosis (Italy) They diagnosed Raynaud's Syndrome, until there was amputation of the first and second phalanges, which caused total invalidism…

(Italiano) Sbirulino: Sclerosi Sistemica variante Limitata, Cirrosi Biliare Primitiva (Italia) Mi avevano diagnosticato la sindrome di Reynaud, fino all'autoamputazione delle Ie e IIe falangi arrivando a portarmi ad una invalidità totale del 100%…

Sibel: Scleroderma and Raynaud's (Turkey) Changes in my skin were making me look different in the mirror…

Susie: CREST Syndrome I have had CREST syndrome for the past eight years. My specialist is Dr. Frederick Wigley, from Johns Hopkins…

Also see: Personal Stories (Main Collection). ISN.

Digital (Finger) Ulcers ISN.

Personal Stories (Main Collection) ISN.

Photos of Scleroderma Symptoms ISN Photo Repository

Raynaud's: Treatments: Severe Cases ISN.

Scleroderma Skin Involvement ISN.

What is Raynaud's? ISN.

What is Scleroderma? ISN.

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