Necrotizing soft tissue infections are a group of highly lethal infections that typically occur after trauma or surgery. Many individual infectious entities have been described, but they all have similar pathophysiologies, clinical features, and treatment approaches. The essentials of successful treatment include early diagnosis, aggressive surgical debridement, antibiotics, and supportive intensive treatment unit care. The two commonest pitfalls in management are failure of early diagnosis and inadequate surgical debridement. These life-threatening infections are often mistaken for cellulitis or innocent wound infections, and this is responsible for diagnostic delay. Tissue gas is not a universal finding in necrotizing soft tissue infections. This misconception also contributes to diagnostic errors. Incision and drainage is an inappropriate surgical strategy for necrotizing soft tissue infections; excisional debridement is needed. Hyperbaric oxygen therapy may be useful, but it is not as important as aggressive surgical therapy. Despite advances in antibiotic therapy and intensive treatment unit medicine, the mortality of necrotizing soft tissue infections is still high. This article emphasizes common treatment principles for all of these infections, and reviews some of the more important individual necrotizing soft tissue infectious entities.
Urschel, , , , , , , , (1999). Necrotizing soft tissue infections. Postgraduate medical journal, 1999 Nov;75(889):645-9. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10621873