Southern DHB Vascular Surgery
Public Service, Vascular Surgery
Vascular ulcers are open wounds on the skin that do not heal or that keep coming back once they do heal. They occur because there is not enough blood being supplied to the skin to heal injuries that may be caused by minor trauma or pressure.
Arterial or ischaemic ulcers are usually the result of atherosclerosis or "hardening of the arteries" (a build up of fatty deposits on the inner wall of arteries). When the arteries become narrowed, the flow of blood to the tissues is reduced. These ulcers are usually found on the toes and edge of the foot and are often very painful. Treatment for arterial ulcers may involve surgery.
Venous or stasis ulcers occur when impaired blood flow in the veins causes pooling of blood in the legs. These ulcers are often associated with varicose veins. Venous ulcers are usually found on the lower leg between the knee and the ankle and the leg is often swollen and discoloured. Compression or pressure bandages are the main treatment for venous ulcers although surgery may be required in some patients.