Venous stasis is a pooling of blood in the veins. A venous stasis ulcer is a wound on the surface of the skin caused by pooled blood. These ulcers occur most often on the legs.
Veins have a series of valves that help the blood move in the right direction. When these valves fail to work properly, blood can move backward and pool in the veins. The pooled blood pushes fluid and blood cells out of the veins and into nearby tissue. The leaked fluids irritate the tissue and cause inflammation. Over time, the inflammation can breakdown tissue and lead to ulcers.
Venous stasis ulcers are more common in women than in men. It is also more common in older adults.
Venous stasis increases your risk for this ulcer. Factors that may increase your risk of venous stasis include:
Smoking is harmful to blood vessels and may play a role in venous stasis.
Venous stasis ulcers:
Venous stasis may also cause:
You will be asked about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. The diagnosis can often be done based on history and appearance alone.
Ultrasound or other imaging test may be done to help identify underlying condition and to evaluate blood flow.
Talk with your doctor about the best treatment plan for you. The ulcer will need some time to heal, usually 4 weeks or more. Special dressings are usually needed to help healing.
Supportive care will help tissue heal as quickly as possible and decrease the risk of infection. Treatment may include:
Decreasing venous stasis and moving excess fluid away from the area to further decrease irritation and help healing.
Certain medication will help promote blood flow. They may be oral medications or be applied directly to the skin. Options may include:
Other topical medication may be used to improve the health of the skin to promote healing.
Surgery may be needed to improve healing. Surgery may be done to:
Family Doctor—American Academy of Family Physicians
Society for Vascular Surgery
Canadian Vascular Access Association
Collins L, Seraj S. Diagnosis and treatment of venous ulcers. Am Fam Physician. 2010;81(8):989-996.
Venous insufficiency and ulcers. New York-Presbyterian website. Available at: http://www.nyp.org/vascular/services/venous-insufficiency-and-ulcers. Accessed August 17, 2017.
Venous leg ulcer. NHS Choices website. Available at: http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Leg-ulcer-venous/Pages/Introduction.aspx. Updated February 2, 2016. Accessed August 17, 2017.
Venous leg ulcers. Patient website. Available at: https://patient.info/health/venous-leg-ulcers-leaflet. Updated August 1, 2016. Accessed August 17, 2017.
Venous ulcer. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T115837/Venous-ulcer. Updated September 18, 2016. Accessed August 17, 2017.
Last reviewed August 2017 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Michael Woods, MD, FAAP
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.