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Prompt Treatment of Leg Ulcers Improves Healing

By HospiMedica International staff writers
Posted on 01 May 2018
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Image: A new study suggests rapid treatment of venous ulcers improves healing (Photo courtesy of Shutterstock).
Image: A new study suggests rapid treatment of venous ulcers improves healing (Photo courtesy of Shutterstock).
Treating leg ulcers resulting from varicose veins within two weeks of diagnosis improves healing by 12% compared to standard treatment, according to a new study.

Researchers at Imperial College London (Imperial, United Kingdom) conducted a randomized controlled trial involving 450 patients diagnosed with venous leg ulcers who were treated at 20 centers across the United Kingdom. Half of the patients received treatment to close the damaged varicose vein within 14 days (which included sclerotherapy, endovenous laser treatment, and vascular surgery), while the other half received treatment after the ulcer had healed, or after six months if it was still present. All patients were instructed to wear compression stockings.

The results showed that 24 weeks after treatment, venous ulcer healing rates were 85.6% in the group who received rapid treatment, compared to 76.3% in the group who received delayed treatment. In addition, those patients who received varicose vein treatment within the two-week period healed on average after 56 days, compared to 82 days in the group whose treatment was delayed. The study was presented at the International Charing Cross (CX) Symposium, held during April 2018 in London (United Kingdom).

“Leg ulcers can significantly impact a patient's quality of life, and in severe cases can lead to losing part of their limb. Most patients are offered only compression stockings without being referred for treatment that tackles root of the problem, the faulty vein,” said senior author Professor Alun Davies, MD, DSc, of the department of surgery and cancer. “By intervening early you improve the healing of the leg ulcer, and help a patient recover quicker. We recommend that patients are referred to a vascular clinic upon diagnosis with a venous ulcer, to see if they would be suitable for early treatment.”

Venous ulcers are the result of varicose veins (also known as venous reflux disease), and tend to occur on the lower leg, just below the ankle to halfway up the calf. Venous ulcers may also develop as a result of any injury to the leg or thrombosis, multiple pregnancies, overweight, and standing for long periods of time, such as in work related situations. The ulcers are the result of pooling of fluid in the limb, and may result in poor wound healing, edema, restricted mobility due to pain or discomfort, and even amputation.

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