Venous Stasis Ulcers

Leg with a Venous Leg Ulcer (VLU)

Venous Stasis Ulcerations (VSUs) can form as a result of lower leg venous insufficiency.  Venous stasis ulcers typically form in the lower leg area near the ankle and are most prevalent in patients with a long-standing history of immobility, chronic edema or leg swelling, varicose veins, or blood clots.  Other risk factors include uncontrolled hypertension, uncontrolled diabetes, leg injury and phlebitis.  VSUs are typically large and shallow with irregularly shaped edges.  They may be accompanied by dull aching or leg pain.

Patients who develop VSUs usually have experienced long-standing dry, red, itchy, and scaly skin known as stasis dermatitis.  Hemosiderin staining, seen as taut, shiny skin with brownish/purple patches beneath the skin, can also present as a symptom prior to ulcer development.

VSUs are the most common ulceration that occurs in the lower leg area.  VSUs typically form on bony prominences of the inner leg near the ankle.  They account for approximately 70-80% of lower leg ulcerations and can be severe and/or debilitating.

Venous stasis ulcers typically include a significant amount of exudate, or wound drainage, and require active wound care treatment in addition to compression therapy.  Systematic antibiotics may also be needed if the wound becomes infected.

Early recognition and intervention are critical as healing rates are often poor and patients can experience ulcer reoccurrence if the underlying cause is not corrected.

Management of Venous Stasis Ulcers (VSUs) includes:

  • Treatment of the underlying medical conditions.
  • Active wound care treatment of Venous Stasis Ulcer (VSU) with prescribed systemic antibiotics, if applicable.
  • Use of bandaging to contain excess exudate.
  • Use of compression to prevent reoccurrence of VSUs.
  • Movement and exercise to improve venous and/or lymphatic flow.
  • Skin care to soften and condition affected skin.