What causes myonecrosis in omphalitis?

Updated: May 20, 2019
  • Author: Patrick G Gallagher, MD; Chief Editor: Santina A Zanelli, MD  more...
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This refers to infectious involvement of muscle.

In infants with omphalitis, development of myonecrosis usually depends on conditions that facilitate the growth of anaerobic organisms. These conditions include the presence of necrotic tissue, poor blood supply, foreign material, and established infection by aerobic bacteria such as staphylococci or streptococci. C perfringens, in particular, does not replicate under conditions of an oxidation-reduction potential (Eh) greater than -80 mV; the Eh of healthy muscle is 120-160 mV. In infections with mixtures of facultative aerobes and anaerobes, the aerobic organisms use oxygen available in tissue, thereby further reducing the Eh in tissues inoculated by Clostridium species or other anaerobic bacteria, often to less than -150 mV, allowing anaerobic bacterial growth.

The toxins produced in the anaerobic environment of necrotic tissue allow rapid spread of organisms through tissue planes. Local spread of toxins extends the area of tissue necrosis, allowing continued growth of organisms and increasing elaboration of toxins. Because of progressive deep tissue destruction and subsequent systemic spread of toxins, anaerobic infections may be fatal if not treated promptly. In addition, rapid development of edema, which constricts the muscle within its fascia, may lead to ischemic myonecrosis.

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