Venous Ulcers

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Arteriography: Also called angiography, this technique is the medical imaging of blood vessels to look for aneurysm and stenosis.

Hemosiderin staining: Hemosiderin staining results in a red, ruddy appearance on the lower leg and ankle. This appearance is caused when red blood cells are broken down and not removed adequately as a result of venous insufficiency or another medical condition.

Phlebectomy: A minimally invasive procedure (usually outpatient) to remove varicose veins located near the surface of the skin.

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Approximately 2.5 million Americans are diagnosed with chronic venous insufficiency, and approximately 20% will go on to develop venous leg ulcerations. Chronic venous leg ulcers (VLUs) account for 90% of all chronic ulcers of the lower limb region. Wound chronicity takes place in wounds that are stalled and/or remain unhealed after four to six weeks. Although evidence-based care has been established, it has been reported that 30% of patients still experience delayed healing, with wounds often failing to heal within a 24-week time frame. Identifying risk factors for VLUs is imperative in best outcomes.

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WoundSource Practice Accelerator's picture

Venous leg ulcers can be slow to heal; the longer a wound is present, the less likely it is to heal. To move a venous leg ulcer through the phases of wound healing may require more than just basic wound care.

Chronic venous leg ulcers can be prone to chronic inflammation. Changes in the microcirculation down to the capillary level can elevate levels of cytokines and proteases, thus leaving the wound stuck in the inflammatory cycle. Controlling, reducing, or eliminating inflammation is necessary to move the wound toward closure.

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WoundSource Practice Accelerator's picture

Of all the types of chronic wounds in lower extremities, venous leg ulcers are the most common, and they account for up to 70% of lower leg ulcers. Infection is a common complication in these wounds, however, and may contribute to chronicity. Biofilm is another common complicating factor. Preventing infection, removing unhealthy tissue from the wound, providing dressings that manage exudate, and using advanced modalities can help heal these chronic wound types and prevent a recurrence.

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Hard-to-heal venous leg ulcers (VLUs) comprise the most common type of leg ulcer and impose a major economic burden on the health care system. These wounds can be difficult to heal, and they often experience recurrence within three months of closure, thus further complicating treatment. When managing VLUs, it is important to select strategies that are evidence based and cost-effective. Early diagnosis and implementation of interventions can encourage best outcomes.

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WoundSource Practice Accelerator's picture

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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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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Holly Hovan's picture

Holly Hovan MSN, APRN, RN-BC, CWOCN-AP

Identifying wound etiology before initiating topical treatment is important. Additionally, correctly documenting wound etiology is significant in health care settings for many reasons. Accurate documentation and appropriate topical treatment are two critical components of a strong wound treatment plan and program. Bedside staff members should be comfortable with describing wounds, tissue types, and differentiating wound etiologies. Training should be provided by the certified wound care clinician, along with follow-up (chart reviews and documentation checks, one-on-one education as needed, and routine competency or education days). Additionally, the wound care clinician should be able to develop an appropriate treatment plan based on wound etiology, by involving additional disciplines as needed to best treat the whole patient.