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In cases of meningococcal septicaemia, bacterial toxins can attack the lining of blood vessels and they start to leak, causing the rash of septicaemia, which can develop into larger purple areas of skin.

At the same time, blood clots can form making it even harder for blood to carry oxygen to all areas of the body.

To maintain circulation to the vital organs (the brain, liver, kidneys, heart and lungs) the circulatory system reduces the blood supply to the extremities such as the hands and feet.

When skin and tissue loses their blood supply, they are also starved of oxygen so that patches can eventually blacken and die, leading ultimately to amputation.


Similarly, when someone has sepsis, the body’s clotting mechanism begins to work overtime. Tiny blood clots form throughout the blood system, making it difficult for blood to get to the organs and tissues. As the small blood clots add up, they can block the blood vessels completely.

As nutrients cannot get to the tissues in the fingers, hands, arms, toes, feet, and legs, the skin can begin to die suffer. At first, the skin may look mottled, bluish purple, and then black as the tissue dies.

Dead tissue has to be removed because it can cause infection to spread. If the gangrenous area is small enough, the surgeon may be able to remove just enough to stop the spread. However, if the damage is extensive, amputation may again be needed

How we can help

The avoidance of amputation in these cases depends crucially upon prompt diagnosis, referral and the full range of available investigations and treatment.

Our team of specialist amputation lawyers are here to help if you or your loved one has been affected by amputation because meningitis or sepsis.

We can help you get the answers you need if you think that something might have gone wrong.

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