Venous Stasis Ulcers
What are venous stasis ulcers?
Venous stasis (purplish skin) ulcers are common in patients who have a history of leg swelling, varicose veins or a history of blood clots in either the superficial or deep veins of the legs.
Venous stasis ulcers are one of the worst complications of untreated venous reflux. Discoloration and ulcer formation are signs of advanced venous disease and are caused by poor circulation of blood in the legs. The blood pools cause venous congestion. This back-up of blood leads to skin discoloration, skin thickening, swelling, and possible ulceration.
Venous ulcers are located below the knee and are primarily found on the inner part of the leg, just above the ankle. The base of a venous ulcer is usually red. It may also be covered with yellow fibrous tissue or there may be a green or yellow discharge if the ulcer is infected. Fluid drainage can be significant with this type of ulcer.
The borders of a venous ulcer are usually irregularly shaped and the surrounding skin is often discolored and swollen. It may even feel warm or hot. The skin may appear shiny and tight, depending on the amount of edema (swelling).
What causes venous stasis ulcers?
Leg ulcers may be caused by medical conditions such as:
- Poor circulation
- Venous insufficiency (a failure of the valves in the veins of the leg that causes congestion and slowing of blood circulation in the veins)
- Renal (kidney) failure
- Hypertension (treated or untreated)
- Lymphedema (a buildup of fluid that causes swelling in the legs or feet)
- Inflammatory diseases including vasculitis, lupus, scleroderma or other rheumatological conditions
- Pressure caused by lying in one position for too long
- Genetics (ulcers may be hereditary)
- A malignancy (tumor or cancerous mass)
- Certain medications