Sievering Clinic

Competence Centre for Minimally Invasive Medical Services

Venous Ulcers


Each patient’s treatment plan is individualized, based on the patient’s health, medical condition and ability to care for the wound.

Treatment options for all ulcers may include:
  • Antibiotics, if an infection is present
  • Anti-platelet or anti-clotting medications to prevent a blood clot
  • Topical wound care therapies
  • Compression garments
  • Prosthetics or orthotics, available to restore or enhance normal lifestyle function
Non-surgical treatments for CVI include the following:
It is of the outmost importance to keep the wound clean and moist.
The type of dressing prescribed for ulcers is determined by the type of ulcer and the appearance at the base of the ulcer.

Types of dressings include:
  • Moist to moist dressings
  • Hydrogels/hydrocolloids
  • Alginate dressings
  • Collagen wound dressings
  • Debriding agents
  • Antimicrobial dressings
  • Composite dressings
  • Synthetic skin substitutes
Leg elevation
By keeping the legs elevated, venous flow is augmented by gravity, lowering venous pressures and ameliorating oedema. While sitting, the legs should be above the thighs. Supine, the legs should be above the level of the heart.
Compression stockings
Venous ulcers are treated with compression of the leg to minimize oedema or swelling due to venous hypertension. Compression treatments include wearing compression stockings, multilayer compression wraps, or wrapping an ACE bandage or dressing from the toes or foot to the area below the knee. The type of compression treatment prescribed is determined by the physician based on the characteristics of the ulcer base and amount of drainage from the ulcer.
Unna boots
First described by Unna in 1854, the Unna boot now is the mainstay of treatment for people with venous ulcers. Unna boots are rolled bandages that contain a combination of calamine lotion, glycerine, zinc oxide, and gelatine.
Vacuum-assisted wound closure (VAC)
Negative topical pressure, the general category to which the trademarked VAC therapy belongs, is not a new concept in wound therapy. It is also called subatmospheric pressure therapy, vacuum sealing, vacuum pack therapy, and sealing aspirative therapy. The VAC therapy system is trademarked by Kinetic Concepts, Inc., or KCI. It was first reported on in 1997 by a German surgeon.

The aim of the procedure is to use negative pressure to create suction, which drains the wound of exudate (i.e., fluid, cells, and cellular waste that has escaped from blood vessels and seeped into tissue) and influences the shape and growth of the surface tissues in a way that helps healing. During the procedure, a piece of foam is placed directly over the wound, and a drain tube is placed over the foam. A large piece of transparent tape is placed over the whole area, including the healthy tissue, to secure the foam and drain. The tube is connected to a vacuum source, and fluid is drawn from the wound through the foam into a disposable canister. Thus, the entire wound area is subjected to negative pressure. The device can be programmed to provide varying degrees of pressure either continuously or intermittently. It has an alarm to alert the provider or patient if the pressure seal breaks or the canister is full.

VAC therapy may be used for patients with chronic and acute wounds; subacute wounds (dehisced incisions); chronic, diabetic wounds or pressure ulcers; meshed grafts (before and after); or flaps. It should not be used for patients with fistulae to organs/body cavities, necrotic tissue that has not been debrided, untreated osteomyelitis, wound malignancy, wounds that require haemostasis, or on patients who are taking anticoagulants. The VAC system should not be placed on exposed blood vessels or organs or where there is active bleeding.

It may be considered for patients with a chronic cutaneous ulcer when all of the following criteria are met:
  • Present for at least 30 days
  • Failure of the ulcer to heal despite an adequate wound therapy program consisting of all of the following:
    • Debridement of necrotic tissue if present
    • Stage III or IV stasis ulcers
    • Leg elevation and ambulation for venous insufficiency ulcers
    • It is also used following anti-reflux surgery or sclerotherapy of the venous system
    • Dressing are changed at 2-4 days intervals
Injection sclerotherapy
Injection of sclerosing agent directly into veins usually is reserved for telangiectatic lesions rather than CVI.
Surgical therapy
Chronic venous insufficiency (CVI) and its complications of chronic pain, intractable ulceration, and infection are important conditions to treat by modern surgical techniques. Approximately 8% of patients require surgical intervention for CVI. Surgical treatment is reserved for those with discomfort or ulcers refractory to medical management.

The decision to operate on a patient with venous obstruction in the deep veins should be made only after a careful assessment of symptom severity and direct measurement of both arm and foot venous pressures. Venography alone is not sufficient because many patients with occlusive disease have extensive collateral circulation, rendering them less symptomatic. Clot lysis (eg, tissue plasminogen activator [TPA], urokinase) and thrombectomy have been tried but have largely been abandoned owing to extremely high recurrence rates.

Following surgical procedure are performed:
  • Leg vein and perforator ligation
  • Subfascial endoscopic perforator surgery (SEPS) is gaining in popularity as a means of treating CVI. Endoscopic techniques are used to find and ligate perforating veins. Preliminary reports are encouraging. Ulcers treated with SEPS heal 4 times faster than ulcers treated conventionally. In addition, morbidity of SEPS is significantly lower than traditional operations. Long-term results are pending.
  • Endoscopic fasciotomy and subfascial perforator division
  • A new possibility is endovenous laser treatment of perforating veins. The light phaser is introduced into the vein under the ulcer. This method is only performed by our group and is under clinical study at present.

Complications of Surgery
Haematoma, sural or saphenous nerve damage, and infection are possible complications of venous surgery.

Wound Care at Home
  • Keeping the wound clean
  • Changing the dressing as directed
  • Taking prescribed medications as directed
  • Drinking plenty of fluids
  • Following a healthy diet, as recommended, including plenty of fruits and vegetables
  • Exercising regularly, as directed by a physician
  • Wearing appropriate shoes
  • Wearing compression wraps, if appropriate, as directed