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By Bryan C. Kramer, MD - February 24, 2020
Peripheral Arterial Disease (PAD)
Gangrene is a scary word, but all it means is “dead tissue”
Gangrene can range from a black area on a toe tip that can be present for months without causing any illness (DRY gangrene), to a rapidly spreading area of tissue death due to infection of the dead tissue (WET gangrene).
If infection is present, this is a surgical emergency and you need to go to the hospital immediately.
If you feel fine and just have a black toe tip, you can see a vascular surgeon in the next week or two without any harm.
Most important- if a toe turns black and stays that way for weeks, it means that you do not have enough arterial blood flow to heal the tissue.
This is a limb threatening situation- you should make an appointment to see a vascular surgeon.
Treatment- Both minimally invasive (balloons and stents) and open surgical (bypass surgery) treatments can be used to fix the blood flow problem depending on your anatomy. Only a vascular surgeon is an expert at ALL possible treatments, and can help choose the right one for you.
Bryan C. Kramer, MD