Venous Stasis Ulcers are open sores that develop on the feet, ankles and legs due to swelling and excess fluid in the feet and legs. This may be due to a Renal (Kidney) problem or a Circulation (Venous Stasis or Insufficiency) problem. The increased fluid in the vessels of the lower extremity, especially the veins, leads to extravasation. This is a process in which the water portion of blood and body fluids leaves the veins and enters the soft tissue. It increases in volume within the confines of the skin and continues to build up volume and pressure. This leads to swelling of the lower extremity as well as a thin and shiny appearance to the skin. With longterm swelling, there is eventual breakdown of the skin and the formation of open sores called Ulcers. The Ulcers seen in this condition are referred to as Venous Stasis Ulcers. They are among the most difficult to treat as the swelling must be treated before the ulcer can be healed. Once the cause of the Edema (swelling) has been treated, healing of the ulcer can be seen. Sometimes, it requires a skin graft and multiple debridements of the skin and dead tissue for proper healing to occur. In the best cases, it may take 4-6 months to completely heal the wounds. It is for this reason only that most pro-active foot/ankle specialists will start aggressive treatment of swelling before there is evidence of ulceration. The best conservative treatment remains compression hose. Most patients are not very accepting of this gold standard treatment. This is why Venous Stasis Ulcers remain a significant portion of the non-healing wound world.
Treatment and eventual healing of these wounds is imperative. As long as the wound remains open, it is subject to infection. As these patients probably have other significant medical conditions, the infection may worsen leading to Cellulitis (Skin and Soft Tissue Infection) or if the ulcer is over a bony structure like the ankle (a very common site), it can lead to Osteomyelitis (Infection of the Bone).
There are hundreds of new and older wound care products that are regularly used in the treatment of Foot and Lower Extremity Ulcers. Each Foot Specialist and Wound Care Specialist will have his or her own preferences as to the products and techniques used in the treatment course. Proper healing also requires the patient's strict compliance with the treatment course.