Leg ulceration in sickle cell disease: medieval medicine in a modern world

Hematol Oncol Clin North Am. 2005 Oct;19(5):943-56, viii-ix. doi: 10.1016/j.hoc.2005.08.005.


Leg ulceration is now recognized as an important complication of sickle cell disease, especially of the SS genotype. Since there is no convincing evidence of delayed healing of operation scars or of wounds elsewhere in the body, it must be concluded that factors specific to the lower leg render patients prone to delayed healing at this site. Many lesions are traumatic in origin and since there is considerable variation in healing rates among the normal population, it is useful to define chronic leg ulceration on the basis of a minimal duration, which in Jamaican studies has required at least 3 months and sometimes 6 months before healing. This minimal duration avoids the difficulties of interpreting the significance of briefer lesions since the moment of final healing may be poorly defined (patients may conclude that a scab represents healing whereas small lesions persist beneath) and often goes undocumented as patients may not report and medical attendants may not enquire, the date of final healing.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anemia, Sickle Cell / complications*
  • Anemia, Sickle Cell / therapy
  • Chronic Disease
  • Disease Progression
  • Humans
  • Jamaica
  • Leg Ulcer / complications
  • Leg Ulcer / diagnosis*
  • Leg Ulcer / therapy*
  • Risk Factors