Fournier Gangrene: A Review for Emergency Clinicians

Tim Montrief, Brit Long, Alex Koyfman, Jonathan Auerbach

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

1 Scopus citations


Background: Fournier gangrene (FG) is a rare, life-threatening infection that can result in significant morbidity and mortality, with many patients requiring emergency department (ED) management for complications and stabilization. Objective: This narrative review provides an evidence-based summary of the current data for the emergency medicine evaluation and management of FG. Discussion: Although originally thought to be an idiopathic process, FG has been shown to have a strong association for male patients with advanced age and comorbidities affecting microvascular circulation and immune system function, most commonly those with diabetes or alcohol use disorder. However, it can also affect patients without risk factors. The initial infectious nidus is usually located in the genitourinary tract, gastrointestinal tract, or perineum. FG is a mixed infection of aerobic and anaerobic bacterial flora. The development and progression of gangrene is often fulminant and can rapidly cause multiple organ failure and death, although patients may present subacutely with findings similar to cellulitis. Laboratory studies, as well as imaging including point-of-care ultrasound, conventional radiography, and computed tomography are important diagnostic adjuncts, though negative results cannot exclude diagnosis. Treatment includes emergent surgical debridement of all necrotic tissue, broad-spectrum antibiotics, and resuscitation with intravenous fluids and vasoactive medications. Conclusions: FG requires a high clinical level of suspicion, combined with knowledge of anatomy, risk factors, and etiology for an accurate diagnosis. Although FG remains a clinical diagnosis, relevant laboratory and radiography investigations can serve as useful adjuncts to expedite surgical management, hemodynamic resuscitation, and antibiotic administration.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)488-500
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Emergency Medicine
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 2019


  • Fournier gangrene
  • infectious disease
  • necrotizing soft tissue infections

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Emergency Medicine

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