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Mortification of the flesh

Articles, Games and more Penguin Shop Penguin Shop Book bundles. Penguin gifts. Writing workshops. View all. Events Podcasts Apps. Contact us Contact us Offices Media contacts Catalogues. Home Flesh in the Age of Reason. Flesh in the Age of Reason Roy Porter. Paperback Ebook. Well, there are 3 types of gangrene: dry, moist and gas gangrene. The last one is a type of moist gangrene. Dry gangrene happens when the blood supply to the tissue or the organ gets blocked off. Blood is usually supplied to the tissue via the arteries and their branches.

When these arteries get occluded or obstructed, the cells being supplied by it gets no nutrition or oxygen. They slowly die.

Roy Porter Flesh in the Age of Reason | Romanticism | Individualism

When the cells die and there is no infection occurring after this, the afflicted area becomes cold and black. Why cold and black? Black is the colour of dead tissues. When cells die, they undergo a process of degeneration called necrosis. This turns the cells black. What sort of diseases or conditions lead to dry gangrene? There usually is an underlying disease that has happened for a long time.

This is called a chronic disease. Most common examples are diabetes mellitus and arteriosclerosis. Arteriosclerosis is a degenerative change involving some of the layers in the blood vessel.

There is a type of nodular arteriosclerosis called artherosclerosis. I know, they always try to make medical terminology complicated. It is this type that gives rise to plaques and occlusions in major arteries all around the body. When the arteries in the limbs get obstructed, gangrene can occur. Okay, what about moist gangrene? Another common process that can afflict the tissues, especially the ones in the peripheral areas such as the feet or toes, is an injury.

It is usually crushing injuries, severe fractures or burns that can cause such damage in order to obstruct the entire artery supplying the area. Again, due to a lack of blood supply, the cells in the area begin to die.

Moist gangrene happens when there is a superimposed infection in the afflicted area. While the blood flow trickles to a halt, bacteria infects the area involved. The body is unable to send its defence cells through the blood, like the phagocytes and lymphocytes and all the other white blood cells and antibodies that form the immune system. Sometimes, surgery can also cause moist gangrene, especially those done on the bile duct or intestine.

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Gas gangrene is a type of moist gangrene commonly caused by a particular family of bacteria called the Clostridium species. The members of the family include Clostridium welchii and Cl. This species is well-known for being able to survive in very little oxygen. When these bacteria are present in tissues, they multiply and produce very toxic gases and poisons. One common example of where they like to infect is the amputation stump of a diabetic patient, especially when the amputation is at the thigh level. This is because they usually reside in the gastrointestinal and female genital tracts, and can easily migrate to the thighs.

Gas gangrene can also happen when dry gangrene gets infected by the aforementioned organisms.