Outcomes in Fournier's Gangrene Using Skin and Soft Tissue Sparing Flap Preservation Surgery for Wound Closure: An Alternative Approach to Wide Radical Debridement

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Introduction. Fournier’s gangrene (FG) remains a forbidding necrotizing soft tissue infection (NSTI) that necessitates early recognition, prompt surgical excision, and goal-directed antibiotic therapy. Traditionally, surgical management has included wide radical excision for sepsis control, but this management often leaves large, morbid wounds that require complex wound coverage, prolonged hospitalizations, and/or delayed healing.

Objective. The purpose of this case series is to report the outcomes of FG using a surrogate approach of concurrent debridement of spared skin and soft tissue, negative pressure wound therapy (NPWT), and serial delayed primary closure (DPC).

Materials and Methods. A retrospective review of 17 consecutive patients with FG treated with concurrent skin and soft tissue sparing surgery, NPWT, and serial DPC at Miami Valley Hospital Regional Adult Burn and Wound Center (Dayton, OH) between 2008 and 2018 was conducted. Patients were included if the following were noted: clinical suspicion of FG based on genital and perineal cellulitis, fever, leukocytosis, and confirmation of tissue necrosis upon surgical exploration. Patients not treated with skin sparing surgical debridement or wounds with an inability to maintain a NPWT dressing seal were excluded.

Results. The mean number of total surgeries including simultaneous debridement and reconstruction was 5.5. The average intensive care unit and hospital length of stay was 3.2 and 18.9 days, respectively. The average number of days from initial consult to wound closure was 24.3. The need for colostomy and skin grafts were nearly eliminated with this surrogate approach. Using this reproducible technique, DPC was achieved in 100% of patients. Only 11.8% (2/17) required split-thickness skin grafting as part of wound closure. The majority (9/17; 52.9%) were partially managed as an outpatient during wound closure. During staged DPC, the mean number of outpatient management days was 16.0. There were no mortalities in this series of patients.

Conclusions. To the best of the authors’ knowledge, this is the largest case series reported in the literature using skin and soft tissue sparing surgery for wound closure of a FG NSTI.