Long-term prognosis for patients with chronic leg ulcers: a prospective cohort study

Eur J Vasc Endovasc Surg. 1997 May;13(5):500-8. doi: 10.1016/s1078-5884(97)80179-7.


Objectives: To assess the long-term prognosis of leg ulcers.

Design: A 5 year prospective cohort study.

Materials: A random sample of 382 patients with open leg ulcers (foot ulcers included) treated in the community.

Methods: Interim analyses were made at 15 months (arterial ulcers) and at 20 months (varicose ulcers). Long-term healing was assessed at 54 months by a postal questionnaire. Five year survival was assessed by official population registries.

Results: At 54 months 212 patients (55%) were still alive, of whom 124 (58%) had healed their ulcers, 80 (38%) had open ulcers and eight (4%) were amputated. The healing was worst for patients with venous ulcers, only 44% had healed their original ulcers without recurrence. The 5 year survival was 52%, significantly lower than for age- and sex-matched controls (68%) (p = 0.0002). Patients with venous ulcers had a survival not significantly different from controls and patients with arterial or other aetiologies had a doubled risk of death. Diabetic patients had a lower survival than non-diabetics (p < 0.05) and controls (p < 0.0001), but the healing prognosis was not significantly different.

Conclusion: Only patients with non-venous ulcers have a higher mortality than expected. The long-term healing prognosis for leg ulcer patients is poor and worst for patients with venous ulcers.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Amputation
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Chronic Disease
  • Cohort Studies
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Diabetes Complications
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Foot Ulcer / physiopathology
  • Foot Ulcer / prevention & control
  • Foot Ulcer / surgery
  • Humans
  • Leg Ulcer / physiopathology*
  • Leg Ulcer / prevention & control
  • Leg Ulcer / surgery
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prognosis
  • Prospective Studies
  • Recurrence
  • Registries
  • Risk Factors
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Survival Rate
  • Varicose Ulcer / physiopathology
  • Varicose Ulcer / prevention & control
  • Varicose Ulcer / surgery
  • Wound Healing