CVLT PATHOLOGY: What the Hell is Fournier’s Gangrene?
This article will undoubtedly be a rough ride, dependent upon your opinion of gangrenous genitals. Hey, I don’t judge. Today’s lovely peek into the world of pathology involves a particular nasty type of necrotizing fasciitis (fa-she-i-tis, proper pronunciation of medical terms is key to spice up your dinner party) called Fournier’s Gangrene. First, however, some background. Necrotizing fasciitis is an umbrella-term for sudden and severe flesh-eating bacterial disease. NF can cause tissue death (necrosis) in as swiftly as 1 CM per hour. Which can result in death. Painfully, I may add. You may recall a blip in the news a few years back regarding the young woman who suffered the zip-lining accident, where one infected wound welcomed a swarm of flesh-eating bacteria. As the tissue was eaten away, the bacteria entered her bloodstream which sadly led to an emergency amputation of all four limbs.
One case of NF you probably heard of was that of ex-Slayer guitarist Jeff Hanneman. The one with the Nazi obsession and beautiful blonde mane. Hanneman’s flesh-eating bacteria, as the story goes, brought on by the classic ‘spiderbite in a hot tub’ scenario. This was quickly treated before any long-term damage could take place with a hardy dose of intravenous antibiotics. The reason behind such a seemingly innocuous wound becoming infected was due to his weakened immune system brought upon by liver failure, which ultimately brought about his downfall.
Now let’s move on to the fun one! Fournier’s Gangrene! This is a particularly nasty flavor of necrotizing fasciitis, not simply for the swiftness the infection takes hold, but for the region it consumes. This would be the perianal (b-hole), genitals( 😉 ), and/or perineal regions (gooch, grundle, taint, banus, the jesus bridge, etc). Your happy places. Happy places now enveloped by gangrenous decay requiring emergency skin debridement (surgical removal) of the infected areas. The physician Baurienne was the first to note this condition in 1764 – though it certainly existed prior, and I am unsure how it wasn’t remarked upon. Probably due to the affected cleansing their genitals with sweet, sweet fire. This condition was officially named in 1883 by French dermatologist (and mustachioed STD aficionado) Jean Alfred Fournier, after his presentation of several cases that same year. Side note: I personally will never understand why anyone would choose to have their name associated with rotting dicks, but I’m no MD. Fournier had his name associated with several fun and endearing medical terms. The next time you see a syphilitic priest licking the scarred lesions on his crusted lips you can shout out, “you, sir, have ‘Fournier’s Sign’, caused by congenital syphilis.”
Uhm. Back to the subject of dicks, Fournier’s Gangrene is typically a boys game, males being affected on average 10:1 more than females. There are other contributing factors to Fournier’s Gangrene, of course. One such occurrence happened to a young and otherwise healthy male of 29. Now, what could cause one’s genitals to be covered in lesions? Lesions which led to infection and invitation of flesh-eating bacteria? You guessed it! Excessive masturbation! “A result of violent twisting of the penis during erection” caused swelling and open abrasions. Horrid voids of beaten and bloodied penile flesh are an attractive home for bacterial infection. Picture his genitals as some sort of vesicular-textured pumice stone accompanied by an overwhelming and permeating stench of rot. Actually, don’t. That’s gross. This brought a welcome debridement of his ruined dick ‘n balls. Don’t worry, though. This took place back in the distant past in the year…2012. Oh. The ‘hairy palms’ myth can officially be replaced.
Right now you’re probably thinking “hey, I’d rather not have that.” and I have good news for you! Wash your junk, you gross fuck. This disease is entirely possible to avoid and has drastically decreased in modern times. Fournier’s Gangrene is now considered a ‘rare’ disease, under 100 documented cases per year with a fatality rate of 4%-22%. One positive is that this is drastically lower than your non-genital related necrotizing fasciitis with rates of approximately 970 per year with a fatality rate of 25%.
So… yeah. Treat your genitals with respect and clean your wounds, children!