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Leg Ulcers

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Leg ulcers can be caused by problems with the venous and arterial circulation, or on many occasions a combination of these. In the past, typically, venous leg ulcers have comprised 70-80% of all leg ulcers. However, due to patients’ lifestyles, increasing numbers of people are developing mixed aetiology ulcers where venous and arterial pathologies coexist.

There are a number of potential causes for damage to venous valves, including trauma, blockage and deep vein thrombosis. This can lead to a build up of pressure in the lower limb, termed venous hypertension, which can affect healing and ultimately result in ulceration. The management of Venous Leg Ulcers requires the control of oedema and infection, wound closure and the use of graduated compression to combat venous hypertension (see compression bandaging).

Arterial ulcers are not as common as venous ulcers, but are often more complex to manage due to co-existing diseases and complications. Concurrent diabetes increases the severity and progression of arterial occlusive disease. Arterial status should always be assessed using a hand held Doppler ultrasound and /or via Duplex scanning by a trained health care professional. Full or high compression bandaging is not recommended for patients with an Ankle Brachial Pressure Index of less than 0.8 indicating arterial disease.

For more information see:

Information provided with support from the Wound Healing Research Unit, Cardiff.

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