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Gas gangrene: potential for hyperbaric oxygen therapy.

Clostridial myonecrosis (gas gangrene) is an uncommon sequela of traumatic injury. Infection with Clostridium perfringens in devitalized tissue is the most common cause. Wide surgical debridement and appropriate antibiotic therapy remain the standard of care. However, the addition of hyperbaric oxygen therapy to standard management has been shown to have a synergistic effect in reducing morbidity and mortality in both canine and murine models. Although no prospective human data are available, retrospective data indicate that concomitant hyperbaric oxygen therapy has resulted in a twofold reduction in mortality. Where feasible, hyperbaric oxygen therapy should routinely be incorporated into the treatment plan for gas gangrene. Primary care physicians are in a unique position not only to make an early diagnosis but also to have a central role in coordinating multidisciplinary care often needed for this potentially fatal infection.

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