Fournier gangrene – a fulminant polymicrobial necrotizing fasciitis affecting the perineal or genital regions

  • Diabetes mellitus, alcoholism, male sex and immunosuppression are common predisposing factors
  • Fournier stressed that hallmarks of the gangrene were both the fulminant course and the unidentified source. However contemporary cases can generally be attributed to local trauma or infection from genitourinary, anorectal, perineal or genital skin sources. No identifiable cause is only found in 8-10% of cases
  • Patients typically present with swelling, pain, crepitus, and fever.
  • CT imaging can determine the extent of disease prior to surgery, and refine the potential source of the infection. Scans can demonstrate asymmetric fascial thickening, soft tissue oedema, fluid collections, and gas (90%)

History of Fournier gangrene

1764 – H Baurienne published the case of a 45 year old army butcher suffering from secondary infection after having suffering pelvic and perineal injuries from the horns of a bull

Le nomme Pierre Jacque, garcon boucher de l’armee, age de quarante-cinq ans, achetant un boeuf a Francfort, & voulant I’examiner, recut de cet animal des coups de cornes, qui lui firent deux plaies contuses, d’ont l’une s’etendoit depuis la partie inferieure des os pubis, du cote droit, jusqu’au perine, du mdme cote; & I’autre etoit situee a la partie superieure interne de la cuisse gauche; le blesse tomba a la suite des coups, avec perte de connaissance, & fut transporte chez lui.Baurienne

1764; 20: 251-256

Pierre Jacque, a butcher in the army, aged forty-five, buying a bull in Frankfurt, was wishing to examine it, and received from this animal some blows of horns, which gave him two contused wounds, one stretched from the lower part of the pubic bones, on the right side, to the perineum, on the same side; the other was situated at the upper internal part of the left thigh…Baurienne

1764; 20: 251-256

1784 – Leverett Hubbard (1725-1794) was a physician practicing in New Haven and the first President of the Connecticut Medical Society. He delivered a communication before the Medical Society of New Haven County on the case of Mr. S. H. aged 40 and the successful treatment for “intense pain in his private parts”.

Hubbard original hand-written communication 1784:

1848 – Hebler described a case of a 12 week old infant with erysipelas of the genital region which, on the third day, developed into gangrene of the scrotum and prepuce.

1883 – Jean-Alfred Fournier provided the first clinical descriptions of idiopathic, rapidly progressive necrotizing perineal gangrene in 5 male patients characterized by the absence of any predetermined cause, of sudden onset, with rapid progression, and excessive morbidity

Associated Persons

Alternative names
  • Fournier’s gangrene
  • Gangrène foudroyante de la verge

  • Early descriptions of scrotal gangrene have been attributed to many authors however, most of these cases were not idiopathic, nor were they fulminant.
  • Of note, from reviewing the literature. Baurienne described a 45 year old male (not 5 year old boy);



the names behind the name

Bsc (Hons) MD from the University of Western Australia. Born and raised in Perth, Western Australia and currently working as a Urology Registrar within WA Health. Has a keen interest in health, fitness and water based sports.

BA MA (Oxon) MBChB (Edin) FACEM FFSEM. Emergency physician, Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital.  Passion for rugby; medical history; medical education; and asynchronous learning #FOAMed evangelist. Co-founder and CTO of Life in the Fast lane | Eponyms | Books | Twitter |

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