What Are Venous Ulcers?

Venous ulcers or venous stasis ulcers are open wounds caused by poor blood circulation in the veins of the lower legs. Veins contain one-way valves that keep blood flowing toward the heart. Venous insufficiency occurs when a valve becomes damaged or fails. Blood then stops moving forward or upward and begins pooling in the vein. With increased pressure, the blood leaks out of the affected vein and into surrounding tissues. The tissue trauma and lack of circulation leads to the development of wounds known as venous ulcers. Most often seen in people over the age of 60, the condition is more likely to develop in the presence of certain risk factors that include:

* Insufficient physical activity
* Prolonged hours of standing or sitting
* Obesity
* Smoking
* Deep vein thrombosis-causes almost 1/3 of all ulcerations

Symptoms of Venous Insufficiency

Swelling in the ankles and feet are the first signs of venous insufficiency. Legs may feel heavy and tire easily. Many experience a deep, burning sensation. As the disorder progresses; the skin in the lower legs turns red, darkens, and becomes purple. The skin also commonly feels thicker, dry, itchy, and may flake. If left untreated, painful ulcers form. The open wound serves as a portal for infection, which may include odor and pus formation. The area surrounding the wound is also usually reddened and tender. Anyone experiencing signs of venous insufficiency should consult with a physician. When ulceration develops, medical intervention is necessary for proper healing.

Diagnosing Venous Disorders

Physicians typically obtain a complete medical history and perform a physical examination. A duplex Doppler ultrasound indicates the movement of blood moving through the vascular structures in the lower legs. Doppler devices are the fastest and most cost-effective means of evaluating circulation. Practitioners might also assess venous pressure using other test methods. In the event of a venous stasis ulcer, physicians may additionally obtain a sample of fluid to determine the type of bacterial infection.

Venous Insufficiency Treatments

When diagnosed in the early phases of the disorder, physicians commonly prescribe compression therapy in an effort to discourage pooling. This technique usually entails wearing custom-sized compression stockings. In the presence of varicose veins, physicians may advise VNUS ClosureFast™ Radio-Frequency vein ablation, which eliminates problem veins and encourages healthier circulation. The small ClosureFast catheter contains a heating element that shrinks the vein lining, which causes the vessel to constrict and close. During the procedure, the computerized system additionally provides practitioners with feedback of venous structures.

Venous Ulcer Treatment

Infections are treated with topical or oral antibiotics. Physicians often begin by debriding the affected area or removing damaged tissue, which stimulates healthy tissue regrowth. Various topical medications and moist dressings are then applied that prevent infection while encouraging skin formation over deeper healing tissues.