ABC of wound healing: Venous and arterial leg ulcers
- By: Joseph E Grey, Stuart Enoch, Keith G Harding
Venous leg ulceration is due to sustained venous hypertension, which results from chronic venous insufficiency. In the normal venous system, pressure decreases with exercise as a result of the action of the calf muscle pump. When the muscles relax, the valves in the perforating veins connecting the superficial to the deep venous circulation prevent reflux and the pressure remains low. The venous pressure remains high, however, in a system where the valves are incompetent.
Up to 10% of the population in Europe and North America has valvular incompetence, with 0.2% developing venous ulceration. Forty to fifty per cent of venous ulcers are due to superficial venous insufficiency and/or perforating vein incompetence alone with a normal deep venous system. There are many risk factors for venous ulceration. Recurrent venous ulceration occurs in up to 70% of those at risk. Many venous ulcers are painful, so appropriate pain relief and advice should