Chronic venous leg ulcers benefit from surgery: long-term results from 173 legs

J Vasc Surg. 2006 Sep;44(3):572-9. doi: 10.1016/j.jvs.2006.05.039.


Objective: The purpose of this retrospective study was to present 7 years of data from operations of currently active, chronic venous leg ulcers (CEAP: C6), focusing on the short- and long-term effects of healing and recurrence and considering concomitant risk factors.

Methods: Between January 1997 and March 2004, 173 patients (239 legs) with a currently active, chronic venous leg ulcer were surgically treated. The surgical procedures included two main steps: (1) the surgical interruption of reflux in the superficial and perforating veins to reduce venous hypertension in the entire leg and/or the affected area and (2) the surgical procedure involving the ulcer. A total of 123 patients (173 legs) who came to the follow-up were examined. The follow-up period ranged from 3 months to 7 years. The data collection integrated a preoperative examination that included medical history and clinical diagnoses and incorporated measurements such as body mass index, ankle-brachial pressure index, and the neutral position method at the follow-up. The function of the veins was measured with duplex ultrasonography. Finally, the data were analyzed by using various statistical methods, including Kaplan-Meier analysis, Cox regression analysis, and paired t tests.

Results: Initially, ulcer healing occurred in 87% of the cases (151 legs). A total of 13% (22 legs) of the venous ulcers never healed, and recurrent venous ulcers occurred in 5% (9 legs). The Kaplan-Meier analyses of ulcer healing showed a healing rate of 85% in 6 months for all legs. The mean time of healing was 1.5 months. Furthermore, the Kaplan-Meier analyses of ulcer recurrence showed a 1.7% rate of recurrence in 6 months for all legs. The 5-year ulcer recurrence rate was 4.6%. The mean time of recurrence was 70.4 months.

Conclusions: On the basis of the results from the 7 years of data from functional surgery of venous leg ulcers and as a result of the outcomes of our study, we recommend surgical treatment of venous leg ulcers at any stage. We therefore conclude that surgery is indicated before an ulcer is intractable to treatment. In general, our findings are based on the understanding and identification of the causes and symptoms of venous ulceration and illustrate that standard surgical methods can be applied for the therapy of venous leg ulcers at any stage.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Blood Pressure
  • Brachial Artery / physiopathology
  • Chronic Disease
  • Fasciotomy
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Quality of Life
  • Risk Factors
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Ultrasonography, Doppler, Duplex
  • Varicose Ulcer / diagnostic imaging
  • Varicose Ulcer / surgery*
  • Wound Healing