Preoperative photography of a patient with gas gangrene due to Clostridium perfringens.

Erythema of the right shoulder with an area of necrosis can be seen.
At this juncture crepitus is palpable in the subcutaneous tissue of the shoulder and the upper arm. In comparison, the erythema shows a massive progression.

photo:Engelbert Schröpfer, Stephan Rauthe and Thomas Meye

Gas gangrene of the right leg and pelvis, showing swelling and discoloration of the right thigh, bullae, and palpable crepitus. The patient, in shock at the time this photograph was taken, underwent a hemipelvectomy and died less than eight hours later.
Author Engelbert Schröpfer
Diagnosis and misdiagnosis of necrotizing soft tissue infections: three case reports. Cases J 2008, 1:252. doi: 10.1186/1757-1626-1-252

Gangrene of the 1st to 4th toes of the right foot in person with diabetes.

Author James Heilman


Clostridium perfringens

  • General information

    • the following information is not yet verified
      Family: Clostridiaceae

      Natural habitats
      This species is more widely spread in nature than any other pathogenic microorganism.
      Human and animals frequently carry C. perfringens as part of normal endogenous flora.

      Clinical significance.
      C. perfringens is the species of Clostridium most commonly isolated from infections in humans; such infections are often polymicrobial.

      It is most commonly recovered from infectious derived from the colonic flora (e.g., peritonitis, intra-abdominal abscess and soft tissue infections below the waist)

      C. perfringens can cause severe food poisoning, as well as being the cause of the rapidly developing gas gangrene.

  • Gram stain

    • the following information is not yet verified
      Gram positive straight rods,

      0.6-2.4 x 1.3-19.0 µm,

      occurring singly or in pairs.

      Spores are rarely seen in vivo or in the usual in vitro conditions

      Spores oval / subterminal
      Swelling of the cell positive

  • Culture characteristics

    • the following information is not yet verified

      Obligate anaerobic

      Colonies are 2-5 mm in diameter, dome shaped, translucent with a glossy surface, or may be rough and flat, gray to grayish yellow.

      Most strains produce a narrow zone of complete hemolysis due to the theta toxin and a surrounding zone of incomplete hemolysis due to the alpha toxin. (double zone of β-hemolysis)

      Some type B or C strains may produce a very wide zone of haemolysis due to delta toxin.

  • Characteristics

  • References

    • James Versalovic et al.(2011) Manual of Clinical Microbiology 10th Edition

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