Legs | Cardiology | Leg Ulcers (Symptom)
Venous ulcers (stasis ulcers, varicose ulcers, or ulcus cruris) are wounds that are thought to occur due to improper functioning of venous valves, usually of the legs. They are the major cause of chronic wounds, occurring in 70% to 90% of chronic wound cases. Venous ulcers develop mostly along the medial distal leg, and can be very painful.
Lesions or sores on the legs can result from trauma, infection, tumours or chronic medical conditions. Any process of inflammation or tissue damage may manifest as a sore on the leg. The leg ulcers mainly affect the skin or can be extended to the subcutaneous tissues, muscles, bones and deeper structures of the leg. The root of the problem is increased pressure of blood in the veins of the lower leg. This causes fluid to ooze out of the veins beneath the skin. This causes swelling, thickening and damage to the skin. The damaged skin may eventually break down to form an ulcer.
Diagnosis and Treatment
To rule out poor circulation as a cause, it is usual for a doctor or nurse to check the blood pressure in the ankle and in the arm. Certain blood and urine tests may also be done to rule out conditions such as anaemia, diabetes, kidney problems and rheumatoid arthritis which may cause or aggravate certain types of skin ulcer. In complicated cases you may need to have a scan (ultrasound, CT or MRI) to produce a detailed map of the blood circulation in your leg.
The ulcer is dressed in a similar way to any other wound. The wound is cleaned when the dressing is changed - normally with ordinary tap water. However, an ulcer is unlikely to heal with just dressings. In addition to a dressing, special treatments are applied to help the ulcer to heal.