Necrotizing Fasciitis of the Upper Extremity

Abstract

Necrotizing fasciitis, sometimes called flesh-eating bacterial disease, is a rare limb- and life-threatening soft-tissue infection that can involve the skin, subcutaneous tissue, fascia, and muscle. A variety of microorganisms is known to cause this infectious process. Although it can also affect the lower extremities, 38% of cases of necrotizing fasciitis involve the upper extremities. As in the lower extremities, the consequences of inadequate and untimely treatment of such infection in the upper extremities include high rates of morbidity and mortality. A high index of suspicion and timely treatment can be limb- and life-saving, and are essential for a satisfactory functional outcome of treatment of necrotizing fasciitis and other necrotizing soft-tissue infections. Although necrotizing soft-tissue infections can develop in normal, healthy individuals with relatively minor injuries, persons with immunocompromising illness are at greater risk of developing these infections. This article reviews the treatment of necrotizing fasciitis and other necrotizing soft-tissue infections of the upper extremities.

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