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Poor blood supply is the cause of most Chronic Leg Ulcers

Chronic Leg Ulcers take more than 6 weeks to heal

A Chronic Leg Ulcer is a breakdown of tissue on the leg or foot – due to any cause – that takes more than six weeks to heal. These ulcers are mostly caused by poor blood supply.

There are several types of Chronic Leg Ulcers – each resulting from a malfunctioning of the blood circulation in the lower extremities. Venous Leg Ulcers are caused by venous reflux or obstruction, both of which lead to poor venous return and venous hypertension. Arterial Leg Ulcers are caused by poor blood circulation as a result of narrowed arteries.

There are many synonyms for Venous Leg Ulcer: Crural Ulcer; Ulcus Cruris Venosum; Stasis Leg Ulcer; Varicose Ulcer; and Lower Stasis Ulcer.

The aetiology of different leg ulcer types

Aetiology %*
Venous insufficiency 60-80
Arterial insufficiency ˜ 20
Rheumatoid arthritis ˜ 10
Diabetes / neuropathic ˜ 5
Multifactorial / mixed 10-20

Table 1: Aetiology of leg ulcers
* Results based on References 4,5,6,7,8,9,10,11

With chronic venous insufficiency, the valves that help keep blood flowing toward the heart are damaged and allow some blood to back-up in the vein. The slowed circulation causes fluid to seep out of the overfilled veins into surrounding tissues, causing oedema, tissue breakdown and ulcers.

Figure 1. Illustration of normal venous and abnormal venous blood flow

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