Morning Musically-Minded, Medically-Minded, Masticators!
(Today’s post is sponsored by the letter “M”)
Over the past 600+ episodes, The Simpsons has taken us on an amazing journey involving music, science, and food to name a few concepts.
And what better way to start your week, then by discussing some of these concepts Monday morning?
So let’s get started this week by discussing another medical concept from the eighth episode of The Simpsons, gangrene.
In the eighth episode of The Simpsons, The Telltale Head (Season 01, Episode 08), when Bart decapitates the statue of beloved town founder Jebediah Springfield, an angry mob chases him down. This prompts Bart to tell a 23 minute and 5 second story of how he came to have the head in his possession.
The story starts on the past Sunday when Bart and Lisa are at Sunday school.
Janey: Will my dog Pepper be there?
Ms. Albright: I’m sorry, but the answer is no.
Janey: Why not?
Ms. Albright: Because Heaven is for people.
Lisa: What about my cat, Snowball?
Ms. Albright: I’m sorry, but the answer is no!
Millhouse: Will there be cavemen in heaven?
Ms. Albright: Certainly not!
Bart: Uh, ma’am. What if you’re a really, really good person and you’ve been in a really, really bad fight and your leg gets gangrene and it has to be amputated? Will it be waiting for you in Heaven?
Ms. Albright: For the last time, Bart, yes!
So while dogs, cats, and cavemen will not be in heaven according to Ms. Albright, gangrenous lost limbs will be in heaven awaiting their rightful owners. But have you ever wondered what exactly gangrene is?
Gangrene is when part of your body tissue dies, often as a result of the tissue not getting enough blood from your circulatory system. It usually affects your extremities — the areas farthest from your heart, such as your toes and fingers. However, it can affect other parts of your body, including your internal organs as well. Risk factors include diabetes, peripheral arterial disease, smoking, major trauma, alcoholism, HIV/AIDS, frostbite, and Raynaud’s syndrome. The term gangrene comes from Latin, meaning “putrefaction of tissues”
The three main types of gangrene are dry gangrene, wet gangrene, and gas gangrene.
In dry gangrene, one of your body parts isn’t getting enough oxygen leading to that body part deteriorating and dying. With dry gangrene, the skin is closed and there is no evidence of infection.
In wet gangrene, your body tissues become infected with some bacteria. The tissues react to the bacteria by growing moist and breaking down. This process causes the death of your tissues.
Bacteria called Clostridia cause gas gangrene. These bacteria create an infection that causes gas bubbles and toxins to develop inside the affected area, resulting in tissue death. This type of gangrene can be fatal.
Gangrene is a medical emergency, as it can spread through your body and lead to amputations or death. Recognizing and treating the condition in a timely manner will improve your outcome. Treatment modalities for gangrene include antibiotics, vascular surgery, tissue debridement, exposure to hyperbaric oxygen, and amputation.
WARNING: Some readers may find the following two pictures graphic. Viewer discretion is advised:
Now that we know a little more about gangrene, be sure to come back next week when we continue our Monday morning musings with the next episode of The Simpsons.
What’s your favourite Simpsons medical reference/image/scene? Were you familiar with the concept of gangrene prior to this post? Did you think the word gangrene had something to do with the colour ‘green’? Sound off in the comments below. You know we love hearing from you.