New insights into the epidemiology and etiology of Fournier's gangrene: A review of 33 patients

Ralf Czymek, P. Hildebrand, M. Kleemann, U. Roblick, M. Hoffmann, T. Jungbluth, C. Bürk, H. P. Bruch, P. Kujath

58 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Fournier's gangrene is a necrotizing fasciitis involving the perineal and genital regions. Even today, this often polymicrobial infection still carries a high mortality rate and continues to be a major challenge to the medical community. The purpose of this study was to report our experience with this condition and to compare it with those reported in published studies. We also introduce our approach to treatment. Methods: We analyzed data from 33 patients with Fournier's gangrene who were managed in our hospital from 1996 to 2007, focusing on patient gender, age, etiology, predisposing conditions, comorbidities, bacteriology, sepsis, blood results, mortality, and spread of gangrene. Results: 18 (54.5%) of the 33 patients had been referred to our department by smaller district hospitals. The patient cohort consisted of 23 men and ten women with a median age of 59 years (range 40-79 years). The median time between the onset of symptoms and progression to gangrene was 6 days (range 2-28 days). An underlying cause was identified in 27 patients (81.8%). The commonest etiological events were perianal and perirectal abscesses (n = 13; 39.4%). Predisposing factors included diabetes mellitus in 12 cases (36.4%), chronic alcoholism in ten cases (30.3%), immunosuppression in six cases (18.2%), and prolonged immobilization in five cases (15.2%). 17 patients (51.5%) had a body mass index (BMI) of 25 or higher, and 13 patients (39.4%) had a BMI of 30 or higher. Positive cultures were obtained in 30 cases (90.9%). In 26 cases (78.8%), multiple microorganisms were recovered, including nine cases (27.3%) with both aerobes and anaerobes. Sepsis was present in 26 patients (78.8%). The mortality rate was 18.2%. Conclusion: Fournier's gangrene remains a major challenge with a high mortality. Our results suggest that women are more commonly affected than has generally been assumed. Contrary to published reports, we found that anorectal sources appear to account for more cases of Fournier's gangrene than urological sources.

Original languageEnglish
Issue number4
Pages (from-to)306-312
Number of pages7
Publication statusPublished - 08.2009

Research Areas and Centers

  • Research Area: Luebeck Integrated Oncology Network (LION)


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