A venous ulcer is a wound that doesn't heal on the lower leg or ankle. Underlying conditions that affect blood flow cause these ulcers.
At the UPMC Heart and Vascular Institute, you can access testing and treatment under one roof. Our experts find the underlying cause and provide wound care to keep you healthy.
To request an appointment, contact the UPMC Heart and Vascular Institute:
Venous ulcers (also known as venous stasis ulcers or nonhealing wounds) are open wounds around the ankle or lower leg.
They do not heal for weeks or months and sometimes longer.
Venous stasis ulcers are often on the ankle or calf and are painful and red.
A yellow, fibrous tissue may cover the ulcer and have an irregular border. Drainage and discharge are common with venous stasis ulcers.
This type of ulcer is common in people who have varicose veins or a history of leg swelling.
Venous ulcers occur because of poor blood flow in the leg veins.
Valves inside the leg veins control blood flow through the veins. But these valves can get damaged, altering blood flow and leading to ulcers.
Without adequate blood flow, your body has trouble healing, causing the ulcers to linger.
Venous ulcers often form because of an underlying issue that reduces wound healing or damages the skin, such as:
Factors that affect blood flow in the legs can put you at a higher risk of venous ulcers.
Venous ulcers often heal slowly and can be hard to treat. They lead to an open wound, which carries a risk of causing problems.
Some complications of venous ulcers include:
There are many signs of venous ulcers, including:
An infected ulcer may have:
You should make an appointment right away if you form an ulcer.
The earlier you get treatment for the cause, the faster the wound should heal.
Your doctor performs a physical exam to diagnose a venous ulcer. You may also have some tests to learn the cause.
Vascular surgeons and the team at UPMC's Heart and Vascular Institute actively look for the causes of ulceration. Treatment focuses on the underlying reason to keep the ulcer healed.
You may have a duplex ultrasound to diagnose abnormal veins. An ultrasound uses sound waves to see your venous system.
Using Doppler ultrasound in this test lets the doctor see the speed of blood flow through the leg veins. This test looks for blood clots, blockages in the deep veins, and varicose veins.
After your doctor assesses your veins, they'll design a treatment plan based on your needs.
You must take steps at home to care for your ulcer to ensure proper healing.