A review of technological approaches to venous ulceration

Crit Rev Biomed Eng. 2005;33(6):511-56. doi: 10.1615/critrevbiomedeng.v33.i6.10.


Leg ulceration is a chronic condition affecting about 1-2% of the adult population. The main causes of leg ulceration are venous hypertension, arterial insufficiency, diabetes, or a combination of these aetiologies (causes) or malignancy. Venous ulcers account for approximately 80% of all leg ulcers and are a result of venous hypertension. The current mainstay of treatment of venous ulcers is the application of graduated compression bandaging to the limb. In spite of the application of the best evidence-based therapy, healing rates for venous leg ulcers remain disappointing, at 50-70% after 12 weeks of treatment, depending on initial size and chronicity of the ulcer. Thus, a large number of ulcers are unhealed by this time, and many patients suffer from long-term leg ulceration, some remaining for years, and those that heal often recur. There is an obvious need to develop new treatments that would improve healing rates. This review provides a complete overview of the anatomy of venous circulation and the physiology pertaining to it, the pathophysiology of venous disease, the pathogenesis of ulceration, and a review of treatments currently employed in healing venous leg ulcers and their supporting evidence. The aim of this article is to encourage a fresh look at this chronic problem and stimulate ideas on how healing rates can be improved.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Bandages
  • Blood Circulation / physiology
  • Blood Vessels / anatomy & histology
  • Blood Vessels / physiology
  • Debridement
  • Electric Stimulation Therapy
  • Endoscopy
  • Hemodynamics / physiology
  • Humans
  • Leg Ulcer / physiopathology
  • Leg Ulcer / therapy*
  • Ligation
  • Skin Transplantation
  • Varicose Ulcer / physiopathology
  • Varicose Ulcer / therapy*