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Open Access Highly Accessed Case report

Localised necrosis of scrotum (Fournier's gangrene) in a spinal cord injury patient – a case report

Subramanian Vaidyanathan1*, Bakul M Soni1, Peter L Hughes2, Paul Mansour3, Gurpreet Singh1, James Darroch4 and Tun Oo1

Author Affiliations

1 Regional Spinal Injuries Centre, District General Hospital, Southport, PR8 6PN, UK

2 Department of Radiology, District General Hospital, Southport PR8 6PN, UK

3 Department of Cellular Pathology, District General Hospital, Southport PR8 6PN, UK

4 Department of Immunology, Royal Liverpool University Hospital, Liverpool L7 8XP, UK

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BMC Family Practice 2002, 3:20  doi:10.1186/1471-2296-3-20

Published: 5 December 2002

Abstract

Background

Men with spinal cord injury (SCI) appear to have a greater incidence of bacterial colonisation of genital skin as compared to neurologically normal controls. We report a male patient with paraplegia who developed rapidly progressive infection of scrotal skin, which resulted in localised necrosis of scrotum (Fournier's gangrene).

Case presentation

This male patient developed paraplegia at T-8 level 21 years ago at the age of fifteen years. He has been managing his bladder by wearing a penile sheath. He noticed redness and swelling on the right side of the scrotum, which rapidly progressed to become a black patch. A wound swab yielded growth of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). Necrotic tissue was excised. Culture of excised tissue grew MRSA. A follow-up wound swab yielded growth of MRSA and mixed anaerobes. The wound was treated with regular application of povidone-iodine spray. He made good progress, with the wound healing gradually.

Conclusion

It is likely that the presence of a condom catheter, increased skin moisture in the scrotum due to urine leakage, compromised personal hygiene, a neurogenic bowel and subtle dysfunction of the immune system contributed to colonisation, and then rapidly progressive infection in this patient. We believe that spinal cord injury patients and their carers should be made aware of possible increased susceptibility of SCI patients to opportunistic infections of the skin. Increased awareness will facilitate prompt recourse to medical advice, when early signs of infection are present.