Objective: Martorell hypertensive ischaemic ulcers are often misdiagnosed and can be a clinical and therapeutic challenge. Controversy exists regarding both their underlying triggers and the type of treatment that should be carried out. This study was designed to compare the effectiveness of punch grafting and conventional therapy in pain reduction.
Method: A single-centre retrospective study was performed, including 40 patients with a clinical diagnosis of a Martorell ulcer or post-traumatic ulcer secondary to arteriolopathy in the elderly, who were treated with punch grafting (n= 24) or conventional medical treatment (n=16).
Results: There was a statistically and clinically significant reduction in pain after punch grafting. The minimal overall reduction was of three points in visual analogue pain scores. Of the patients who received punch grafting, 80% reported a VAS pain score of 0 at the third follow-up, in contrast with the 44% (n=4) patients who were treated without punch grafting. The mean time to epithelialisation was 82.1 days in patients who received conventional treatment and 43.5 days in those who received punch grafts.
Conclusion: Punch grafting is a simple, validated and cost-effective technique that can be performed on an outpatient basis, promotes wound healing and reduces pain. It may control pain and stimulate epithelialisation even if the wound does not present with optimum wound bed characteristics for graft taking. Pain reduction and faster epithelialisation are associated with improvements in patients' quality of life.
Keywords: Martorell ulcers; arteriolosclerosis; pain control; punch grafting; ulcer; ulcers with underlying arteriolosclerosis; wound; wound care; wound healing.