Venous skin ulcers are shallow wounds that develop when the leg veins do not circulate blood back to the heart normally. In such cases, blood tends to pool near the ankle as gravity pulls fluid and blood downward. Most venous skin ulcers develop on either side of the lower leg, above the ankle and below the calf. Prolonged swelling of the legs and ankles causes increased pressure in this area, reducing blood flow and oxygen delivery to the skin. As a result skin breakdown may occur resulting in an open ulcer of the skin that often drains moderate to large amounts of fluid. People at risk for developing such ulcers are typically older, have a low level of daily activity or exercise, a history of extended periods of standing or any condition resulting in excess fluid collection in the body or legs. Contributing to ulcer development are hereditary factors, obesity, blood clots, varicose veins and lower leg trauma or injury such as bumping into an object (coffee table or car door for example).
Symptoms of chronic venous stasis disease may include any or all of the following:
- Swelling in legs and ankles, skin discoloration (brown, red or bluish)
- Dry scaly itchy skin
- Aching or feeling of tiredness in legs that is relieved by elevating legs
- Prominent superficial veins
- Skin ulcer (usually above the ankle on inside surface of the leg)
Treatment and Care
Compression therapy products such as compression stockings, single-layer wraps, multi-layer wraps or unna boots are considered the gold standard in care. In recent years pentoxifyline (Trental) has been used with reasonable success in improving circulation. In addition to compression or prescription drug therapy to promote healing, various forms of debridement may be in order. Physicians may choose to debride or treat with specialty dressings. Advanced wound care specialists are able to determine which treatment options best promote healing given a patient’s unique circumstances.
The Methodist Wound Treatment Center provides help through:
- Trained health care professionals to care for patient wounds
- Education regarding treatment of the patient’s wounds and prevention of new wounds complete wound evaluation
- Diagnostic testing
- A treatment plan specific for a patient’s needs
The Methodist Wound Treatment Center is located in Oak Ridge on the campus of Methodist Medical Center, and is conveniently located to Knoxville. The Wound Treatment Center is an outpatient program that focuses on chronic and non-healing wounds. Using advanced treatment modalities and a case management model, we help patients improve the quality of their lives. In partnership with physicians, nurses and multiple medical disciplines, we provide invaluable care for patients.