ABSTRACT Background: Necrotizing fasciitis (NF) is a rare but life-threatening soft-tissue infection characterized by rapidly spreading inflammation and subsequent necrosis of the fascial planes and surrounding tissue. Aim: To determine the clinical characteristics at presentation, causative pathogens and clinical outcome of NF after aggressive management. Patients and methods: We retrospectively reviewed case notes of patients with NF referred to the Teaching Hospital in Port Harcourt from January 2004 to December 2009. Results: The case notes of over 2,280 patients with history of cellulitis and/or infections of the upper and lower limbs were reviewed. These cases were seen in a five-year period from 2004 to 2009. Seventy five (3.29%) patients had a diagnosis of necrotizing fasciitis and were evaluated. Only those with infections on the lower and upper limbs were further analyzed. Thirty five (46.67%) patients had their infections in the lower limb while 40 (53.33%) patients had their infections in the upper limb. Twenty (26.67%) patients were found to be diabetic on admission. Thirty (30%) patients sustained injuries on their limbs while 5 (6.67%) patients could not give account of their infections. Eleven (14.66%) patients had fixed flexion deformities as their wounds healed and had to have further plastic surgery to extend their limbs and 7 (9.33%) patients died while on admission. Conclusion: Although an early diagnosis of NF can be difficult, a high index of suspicion is required in all patients presenting with unexplained warmth and/or cellulitis of the limbs, so that prompt and aggressive debridement can be carried out with commencement of broad spectrum antibiotics.
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