What are Venous Stasis Ulcers?
Venous stasis ulcers are open wounds that typically appear on the medial or lateral ankle. Lower extremity ulcerations are most frequently caused by venous disease with over 70% of the ulcers of the lower extremity being caused by vein disease. In addition to the pain and morbidity of an open wound in the leg, for the individual patient, the annual cost for treatment in the US probably exceeds 1 billion and makes up an estimated 1-2% of the health care budget in western societies.
Cause of Venous Stasis Ulcers:
Ultimately the cause of venous stasis ulceration is an elevated venous pressure. Elevated venous pressure is the result of incompetent or “leaky” valves in the veins of the leg.
This leads to the “pooling” of venous blood and interferes with the nutrient blood supply to the skin as the arterial pressure must overcome the high venous pressure to get oxygen and nutrients to the skin. The elevated venous pressure also leads to damage of the skin marked by discoloration and “hardness”. These precursor skin changes make the skin more susceptible to venous ulceration and can be a sign that the skin is predisposed to ulcerate.
Frequently the ulcer will start with a very small traumatic break in the skin, which then enlarges unless treatment is instituted. Healing takes a long time even with treatment. Treating the underlying elevated venous pressure will shorten healing time.
The leaky valves in the veins can be treated by various non-invasive office based techniques that correct the high venous pressure and will lead to more rapid healing and potential prevention of ulceration in legs that are at risk. In conjunction with these office procedures multiple modalities of compression are available along with good wound care to provide the best opportunities for healing.
Venous stasis ulceration is often the end stage of vein disease and can be treated and prevented by treating the underlying cause which is high venous pressure. Early evaluation and treatment before things “get out of hand” make a huge difference in the treatment and prevention of this serious medical condition. If you feel you are at risk or are currently experiencing this condition, the Center for Vein Restoration can make a difference for you.
Author: John A Rossi MD, RVT
Dr. Rossi is a board-certified surgeon and phlebologist with 30 years of experience in the profession. Dr. Rossi earned his medical degree from the Pennsylvania State University College of Medicine. He completed his training in surgery, including a vascular surgical fellowship at the Hershey Medical Center, where he served as Administrative Chief Resident and Instructor in Surgery.