Venous Ulcers

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Chronic wounds of the lower extremities impose an increasing burden on health care providers and systems, and they can have a devastating impact on patients and their families. These wounds include diabetic ulcers, venous ulcers, arterial ulcers, and pressure injuries. The estimated socioeconomic cost of chronic wounds is 2% to 4% of the health budget in Western countries. Moreover, patient mortality in individuals with chronic wounds has been estimated at 28% over a two-year period, significantly higher than the 4% mortality rate reported for 75 to 79 year-olds without chronic wounds.

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Chronic and complex wounds of the lower extremity frequently recur. It is difficult to determine the precise recurrence rate across patients with different lower extremity wound types, including diabetic foot ulcers, arterial ulcers, pressure injuries, and venous ulcers. However, we know that recurrence rates are high; nearly 40% of patients with an ulcer will develop a recurrence within one year of healing. This percentage is 60% at three years after healing and 65% at the five-year mark.

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Compression therapy is a well-established treatment modality for a number of conditions, including venous disorders, thrombosis, lymphedema, and lipedema. It is also very effective in treating various kinds of edema.1 Based on patient diagnostic data, many patients with these conditions can benefit from targeted compression therapy.

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By Temple University School of Podiatric Medicine Journal Review Club

Hard-to-heal wounds, such as diabetic foot ulcers, pressure injuries, and venous leg ulcers, comprise a significant portion of health care visits, and these wounds place a physical and economic burden on many patients. These hard-to-heal wounds are defined as wounds with stagnant or delayed stages of healing that fail to resolve within eight weeks. Finding ways to accelerate this healing process is of great importance because it can reduce the physical and economic burden on patients, as well as decreasing costs for health care facilities. Matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) are endopeptidases, which are involved in many healing processes, including the cell signaling processes, migration processes, angiogenesis, and the degradation of extracellular proteins. These mechanisms are necessary for the wound healing process by breaking down damaged tissue. In the late stages of healing, when breaking down of tissue is no longer necessary, tissue inhibitors of metalloproteinases down-regulate MMPs. In hard-to-heal wounds, this process is thrown off balance, with delays in the subsequent stages of healing. In an attempt to restore this balance, MMPs have been investigated for their role in wound healing through MMP-inhibiting wound dressings. There have been a number of consequential reviews done using current market wound dressings, such as oxidized regenerated cellulose/collagen and Technology Lipido-Colloid with nano-oligosaccharide factor (TLC-NOSF).

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By: Karen Bauer, NP-C, CWS

How often should ankle-brachial indexes (ABIs) be repeated? If someone has a stage 3 pressure injury to the top of the foot, should compression be held on that extremity?

The Wound, Ostomy and Continence Nursing Society guidelines suggest ABIs every 3 months routinely, while the Society for Vascular Surgery guidelines recommend that post endovascular repair, ABIs are done at 6 and 12 months (then yearly). For open revascularization, surveillance studies can be at 3, 6, and 12 months. Ultimately, many factors play into this. If the ulcer is closing and the limb remains stable, you might forgo frequent ABIs, but if the ulcer is not closing, or the patient has new or persistent ischemic symptoms, you should check ABIs more frequently. As far as compression with a dorsal foot pressure injury is concerned, as long as arterial status has been ascertained, compression can be utilized. The original source of pressure should be removed (shoe? ankle-foot orthotic?). If there is a venous component, cautious compression will aid in ulcer resolution.

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By Samantha Kuplicki, MSN, APRN-CNS, AGCNS-BC, CWCN-AP, CWS, RNFA

Should pain management interventions be put in place before debriding a venous ulcer?

Without question, yes. Any comprehensive wound treatment plan must include a thorough pain assessment, accounting for cyclical and non-cyclical pain sources. This will best guide interventions based on patient’s unique history, which can potentially include complicating factors such as complex personal pain management secondary to chronic pain, inability to tolerate specific interventions because of existing comorbid conditions, limited financial or social resources, etc. Multimodal pain management is standard of care, using the least invasive options and beginning pharmacologic therapy with the lowest necessary dosage possible.

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By Temple University School of Podiatric Medicine Journal Review Club

Venous leg ulcerations (VLUs) are a common and often chronic pathology, and these wounds diminish the quality of life and increase the financial burden for affected patients. A recent article estimates that up to 3% of the U.S. population suffer from VLUs. A venous leg ulcer can be severely painful and may decrease a patient’s quality of life by affecting sleep, mobility, activities of daily living, and even result in social isolation. A 1994 paper proposed that approximately 65% of patients felt financially affected by a VLU, and this number is likely to have increased as a result of rising healthcare costs. The prevalence and chronic nature of the venous leg ulceration has motivated physicians to research novel techniques to heal ulcers successfully and in a timely manner.
Acellular dermal matrices have been utilized to treat diabetic foot ulcers with favorable outcomes.4 This study investigated the efficacy of a specific acellular dermal matrix for VLUs.

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By the WoundSource Editors

Collateral circulation: A collateral blood vessel circuit that may be adapted or remodeled to minimize the use of occluded arteries. Collateralization may offset some of the physiological signs of peripheral artery disease, such as maintaining a normal capillary refill.

Critical limb ischemia: A severe form of peripheral arterial disease in which a severe blockage of the arteries of the lower extremities reduces blood flow. It is a chronic condition that is often characterized by wounds of the lower extremity.

Dependent rubor: A light red to dusky-red coloration that is visible when the leg is in a dependent position (such as hanging off the edge of a table) but not when it is elevated above the heart. The presence of dependent rubor is often an indicator of underlying peripheral arterial disease. When the leg is raised above the level of the heart, its color will normalize.

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By the WoundSource Editors

Lower extremity wounds such as diabetic foot ulcers (DFUs), venous ulcers, and arterial ulcers have been linked to poor patient outcomes, such as patient mortality and recurrence of the wound. Although precise recurrence rates can be difficult to determine and can vary across different patient populations, we do know that the recurrence rates of lower extremity wounds are quite high.

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By the WoundSource Editors

Wounds of the lower extremity, such as chronic venous leg ulcers and diabetic foot ulcers, often have a severe impact on patients' quality of life. Symptoms may range from mild to debilitating, depending on the location of the injury and its severity. These types of wounds also affect a tremendous number of people because lower extremity wounds are estimated to occur in up to 13% of the United States population. The estimated annual cost of treating lower extremity wounds is at least $20 billion in the United States.