Venous ulcers are woundsthat are thought to occur due to improper functioning of valvesin the veinsusually of the legs. They are the major cause of chronic wounds, occurring in 70% to 90% of chronic wound cases (Snyder, 2005).
Images of chronic venous ulcers can be found at this page. These images depict open wounds and may be disturbing.
The exact etiologyof venous ulcersis not certain, but they are thought to arise when venous valves that exist to prevent backflow of blooddo not function properly, causing the pressurein veins to increase (Brem et al., 2004; Mustoe, 2004; Moreo, 2005; Stanley et al., 2005). The body needs the pressure gradientbetween arteriesand veinsin order for the heartto pump blood forward through arteries and into veins. When venous hypertensionexists, arteries no longer have significantly higher pressure than veins, blood is not pumped as effectively into or out of the area (Brem et al., 2004; Mustoe, 2004; Moreo, 2005; Stanley et al., 2005) and it pools.
Venous hypertensionmay also stretch veins and allow blood proteinsto leak into the extravascular space, isolating extracellular matrix(ECM) molecules and growth factors, preventing them from helping to heal the wound (Brem et al., 2004; Stanley et al., 2005). Leakage of fibrinogenfrom veins as well as deficiencies in fibrinolysismay also cause fibrinto build up around the vessels, preventing oxygenand nutrientsfrom reaching cells(Brem et al., 2004). Venous insufficiency may also cause white blood cells(leukocytes) to accumulate in small blood vessels, releasing inflammatory factors and reactive oxygen species(ROS, free radicals) and further contributing to chronic wound formation (Brem et al., 2004; Stanley et al., 2005). Buildup of white blood cells in small blood vessels may also plug the vessels, further contributing to ischemia(Clark, 2005). This blockage of blood vessels by leukocytes may be responsible for the "no reflow phenomenon," in which ischemic tissue is never fully reperfused (Clark, 2005). Allowing blood to flow back into the limb, for example by elevating it, is necessary but also contributes to reperfusion injury(Mustoe, 2004). Other comorbiditiesmay also be the root cause of venous ulcers (Moreo, 2005).
Venous ulcers are costly to treat, and there is a significant chance that they will reoccur after healing(Brem et al., 2004; Snyder, 2005); one study found that up to 48% of venous ulcers had recurred by the fifth year after healing (Brem et al., 2004).
These wounds are treated using surgery to fix blood vessels in the affected area and to excise nonviable tissue. Compression therapyis used for venous leg ulcers and can decrease blood vessel diameter and pressure, which increases their effectiveness, preventing blood from flowing backwards (Brem et al., 2004). Compression is also used (Brem et al., 2004; Taylor et al., 2005) to increase release of inflammatory cytokines, lower the amount of fluid leaking from capillariesand therefore prevent swelling, and prevent clottingby decreasing activation of thrombinand increasing that of plasmin(Snyder, 2005). Compression is applied using elastic bandages or boots specificially designed for the purpose (Brem et al., 2004).
Artificial skin, made of collagen and culturedskin cells, is also used to cover venous ulcers and excrete growth factorsto help them heal (Mustoe, 2005).
- Brem H, Kirsner RS, and Falanga V. 2004. Protocol for the successful treatment of venous ulcers. The American Journal of Surgery, Volume 188, Issue 1, Supplement 1, Pages 1-8.
- Clark WM. 2005. Reperfusion Injury in Stroke. Emedicine.com. Available.
- Moreo K. 2005. Understanding and overcoming the challenges of effective case management for patients with chronic wounds. The Case Manager, Volume 16, Issue 2, Pages 62-67.
- Mustoe T. 2004. Understanding chronic wounds: a unifying hypothesis on their pathogenesis and implications for therapy. The American Journal of Surgery, Volume 187, Issue 5, Supplement 1, Pages S65-S70.
- Mustoe T. 2005. Dermal ulcer healing: Advances in understanding. Presented at meeting: Tissue repair and ulcer/wound healing: molecular mechanisms,therapeutic targets and future directions. Paris, France, March 17-18, 2005. Available.
- Snyder RJ. 2005. Treatment of nonhealing ulcers with allografts. Clinics in Dermatology, Volume 23, Issue 4, Pages 388-395.
- Stanley AC, Lounsbury KM, Corrow K, Callas PW, Zhar R, Howe AK, and Ricci MA. 2005. Pressure elevation slows the fibroblast response to wound healing. Journal of Vascular Surgery, Volume 42, Issue 3, Pages 546-551.
- Taylor JE, Laity PR, Hicks J, Wong SS, Norris K, Khunkamchoo P, Johnson AF, and Cameron RE. 2005. Extent of iron pick-up in deforoxamine-coupled polyurethane materials for therapy of chronic wounds. Biomaterials, Volume 26, Issue 30, Pages 6024-6033.
Categories: Dermatology| Cardiovascular system| Medicine stubs
This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License.
It uses material from the http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Venous+ulcer Wikipedia article Venous ulcer.