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What is Chronic Venous Insufficiency?

Chronic venous insufficiency (CVI) results from failure of the valves in deep or superficial veins. Venous anatomy in the legs is uniquely designed to allow blood to flow against the force of gravity. One-way valves in the veins close at the end of each pulsitile burst of blood upward toward the heart, ensuring unidirectional blood flow. A damaged valve with bi-directional blood flow can allow blood to flow back from the deep venous system into the superficial venous system.

Over time, the weight of this column of blood causes fluid and protein to exude into surrounding tissues where it leaks and pools in the legs and feet. Chronic venous insufficiency can cause discoloration of the skin of the ankles and may lead to tissue breakdown, and ulceration. Venous ulcers are most commonly found around the ankle. They have irregular borders and are more likely to have copious drainage than other ulcer types.

What is Venous Stasis?

Venous stasis, the cessation or impairment of venous flow, and the accompanying ulceration is a commonly occurring problem. Management of this condition presents a large problem to community nursing services and consumes considerable health resources.

What are Venous Stasis Ulcers?

Venous stasis ulceration occurs as an end result of sustained high pressure in the veins of lower extremities. Damage to either the deep or superficial veins then results. As the venous pressure rises and venous stasis occurs, capillaries are stretched and become more permeable. The protein leaks out of the vascular bed into the surrounding tissues. Fibrinogen is converted to fibrin and coats the capillaries, interfering with the exchange of oxygen and nutrients. Tissue breakdown begins and venous ulceration occurs.

Venous stasis leg ulcers are characteristically persistent and slow to heal – making a multifaceted treatment protocol necessary. Traditionally, many approaches have focused only on dressing systems which are directed to the wound healing process itself, as opposed to the underlying cause.

What are the Causes of Venous Ulcers?

Conditions indicating an increased risk for venous ulceration include:

  • A history of deep vein thrombosis, which can damage vein valves
  • A family history of venous disease
  • Lower-extremity edema, which increases the risk of tissue breakdown.

Conditions also linked with the development of venous leg ulcers include:

  • High Blood Pressure
  • Phlebitis
  • Varicose Veins
  • Fractures or Injuries
  • Multiple Pregnancies
  • Previous Surgery
  • Sitting or standing for long periods
  • Obesity