Arterial ulcers often begin as minor traumatic wounds on the foot, around the ankle or on the lower leg. The wound fails to heal due to poor circulation caused by blocked arteries in the leg. If left untreated, arterial ulcers can become infected, develop tissue necrosis (tissue death), and in extreme cases, require amputation of the limb. The ulcers are commonly caused by Peripheral Arterial Disease (PAD), in which vessels that carry blood from the heart to the legs are blocked due to atherosclerosis (a build-up of plaque in the artery wall).
Arterial ulcers are often very painful. However, diabetic patients with neuropathy (nerve damage), may not feel the pain. They are most commonly found on the toes, heels, ankle, or where there is pressure from walking or footwear.
Prevention of PAD and arterial ulcers include:
- Examining your feet (especially between the toes) and legs daily for any unusual changes in color or the development of sores
- Quitting smoking, if you do
- Controlling blood pressure and cholesterol
- Managing your diabetes, if you have it
- Ensuring your footwear is properly fitted to avoid points of rubbing or pressure
- Exercising as frequently as you can
How does the Wound Treatment Center treat arterial ulcers?
The goal of treating arterial ulcers and PAD is to improve circulation, avoid further infections and control pain levels. If there is a significant diagnosis of PAD, an arteriography (X-ray pictures of the blood vessels) is the next step to identify atherosclerotic lesions (plaques) and the blood vessels involved.
Treatment may often include:
- Use of angioplasty (balloon)
- Atherectomy (plaque removal)
- Occasional bypass surgery