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CHRONIC WOUNDS. Based on a presentation by Dr. David Thomas at the AMDA Convention. Four Kinds of Chronic Wounds. Pressure Ulcer ( PU ) Diabetic Ulcer ( DU ) Venous Ulcer ( VU ) Arterial Ulcer ( AU ). Chronic Ulcer Types. Etiology is different Treatment is different

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chronic wounds


Based on a presentation by

Dr. David Thomas

at the AMDA Convention

four kinds of chronic wounds
Four Kinds of Chronic Wounds
  • Pressure Ulcer (PU)
  • Diabetic Ulcer (DU)
  • Venous Ulcer (VU)
  • Arterial Ulcer (AU)
chronic ulcer types
Chronic Ulcer Types
  • Etiology is different
  • Treatment is different
  • Outcome is different
  • Gestalt is different
diagnostic approach
Diagnostic Approach
  • Wound over bony prominence (PU,DU)
  • DM with neuropathy, recurrent trauma, surrounding callus (DU)
  • PVD, wet or dry gangrene (AU)
  • Signs of venous stasis/calf or ankle (VU)
  • Other causes possible, but rare
pain in chronic ulcers
Pain in Chronic Ulcers
  • DU: no or diminished pain, sensation
  • VU: little pain, intact sensation
  • PU: intermittent pain
  • AU: constant pain
pressure ulcers
Pressure Ulcers
  • Visible evidence of pathological interruption of blood flow to dermal tissues
  • Chief cause: sustained pressure
  • Most commonly over sacrum, hip
pressure ulcers what works
Pressure Ulcers:What Works
  • Must relieve pressure or it won’t heal.
  • Must use moist dressing or it won’t heal.
types of moist dressings
Types of Moist Dressings
  • Wet to wet: cheapest
  • Hydrocolloid: for dirty areas
  • Hydrogel/ Foam/ Alginates/ Biomembranes/ Collagen
  • Thin Film Polymers: tear off top layer of cells
  • Most doctors treat few pressure ulcers.
  • Very few good studies; none for most treatments.
  • Treatment modalities for pressure ulcers are considered devices: only safety, NOT efficacy, must be proved.
treatments proven not to work
Zinc paste


Gold leaf

Aluminum foil

Topical insulin




Dry dressings


Treatments Proven NOT to Work
treatments with no data
Treatments with No Data
  • Magnet therapy
  • Honey/ Sugar
  • “Skin equivalents”
treatments with very flawed data
Treatments With Very Flawed Data
  • Vitamin C
  • Patient’s serum mixed with proprietary gel
  • Vacuum therapy
  • Electrical stimulation
  • Topical Phenytoin
  • Cytokine growth factors
other effective treatments
Other Effective Treatments
  • Sheng-ji-san (SJS)
  • Whirlpool
  • Any kind of pressure relieving bed
  • Debridement of necrotic tissue: surgical (required if infected), autolytic, enzymatic
pearls from dr thomas
Pearls from Dr. Thomas
  • Hydrocolloid dressings are impervious to urine and feces but cannot change dressing.
  • Heel ulcers have a very thin layer of tissue underneath: debridement exposes bone. Debride only if tissue is infected; otherwise form crust with betadyne and use boots.
pressure ulcer guidelines
Pressure Ulcer Guidelines
  • Address nutrition
  • Promote granulation tissue
  • Promote epithelialization
  • Prevent contamination
  • Stage I: Thin film polymer
  • Stage II: Moist gauze (wet-to-wet) or hydrocolloid
  • Stage III/ IV with dead space/ exudate: hydrogel, wet-to-wet, or hydrocolloid with synthetic absorption dressing below.
  • Stage III/ IV with necrosis: debride, then treat as III/ IV above.
nursing home pearl
Nursing Home Pearl
  • Home health nursing and nursing home care plans of ulcers tend to call for improved nutrition and healing; if pressure ulcers have occurred because the patient is dying/ not eating, make sure the care plan reflects that (for liability and survey purposes).
venous stasis ulcers
Venous Stasis Ulcers
  • An area of discontinuity of the epidermis, persisting for 4 weeks or more, occurring as a result of venous hypertension and calf muscle pump insufficiency.
  • Must exclude arterial disease, neuropathy, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, hemoglobinopathies, and carcinoma.
  • Biopsy if long-standing or looks weird.
diagnosis of venous ulcers
Diagnosis of Venous Ulcers
  • Location on the calf
  • Bronzing (lipodermatosclerosis)
  • Exclusion of arterial insufficiency by bounding DP pulses, or ABI > 0.8
  • Tend to be slow-healing (~90% heal by one year), irregular, and associated with edema and sloughing
treatment of vu what works
Treatment of VU:What Works
  • Must compress the calf, or it won’t heal
  • However, arterial insufficiency is an absolute contraindication to compression therapy
  • Must carefully assess for arterial flow
compression options for vu
Compression Options for VU
  • ACE wrap: useful for removing edema
  • Unna boot: works via muscle contraction against the hard shell; will not work in a nonambulatory patient
  • Venous support hose: comes 25 to 35 mmHg, but 35 needed to work
  • All compression must be wrapped tight enough to be effective
infection in vu
Infection in VU
  • All VU’s are colonized
  • No evidence that colonization impairs healing, though may interfere with a graft
  • Don’t culture VU’s!
recognition of infection in vu s
Recognition of Infectionin VU’s
  • Fever
  • Increased pain
  • Increased skin erythema
  • Lymphangitis
  • Ulcer rapidly becomes larger
  • If infected, treat with systemic AB’s
vu treatments
VU Treatments
  • Hydrocolloid dressing
  • Cadexomer iodine topically
  • Trental (anticytokine) and compression
  • Artificial skin
  • Skin graft
  • TGF-B2
ineffective vu treatments rct s
Ineffective VU Treatments (RCT’s)
  • Antibiotics, including Bactroban
  • Elase
  • Zinc
  • Stanozolol
  • Ifetroban
  • Silver sulfadiazine
secondary prevention in vu s
Secondary Preventionin VU’s
  • Recurrence in ~57%
  • Reflux in deep veins in 50 to 71%
  • Prior DVT causes 95% of DV reflux
  • Venous support hose may reduce recurrence rate (unpublished data)
treatment guidelines vu
Treatment Guidelines--VU
  • Use moist wound dressings
  • Use a compression bandage system
  • Don’t use AB’s/antiseptics unless infected
  • Use grafting/artificial skin only if all other treatments have failed—very expensive, and high recurrence rate
diabetic ulcers
Diabetic Ulcers
  • Chronic ulcer in a diabetic patient, not primarily due to other causes
  • Extrinsic causes: smoking, friction, burn
  • Intrinsic causes: neuropathy, macrovascular and microvascular disease, immune dysfunction, deformity, reopened previous ulcer
neuropathy in du
Neuropathy in DU
  • Use monofilament for 5 seconds or less, to avoid triggering propioceptors
  • Also assess temperature sensation—may use reflex hammer
  • Can test pinprick and 2-point discrimination
co morbidity in du
Co-Morbidity in DU
  • Peripheral vascular disease occurs in 11% of diabetic patients
  • Peripheral neuropathy occurs in 42% of diabetic patients
  • PVD is associated with delayed ulcer healing and increased rates of amputation
treatment of du what works
Treatment of DU:What Works
  • Must surgically debride ulcer to allow healing: the wound edges are dead
  • Weekly debridement down to healthy bleeding tissue gives best results
  • Must keep pressure off the ulcers to allow healing
pressure reduction off du
Pressure Reduction Off DU
  • Orthopedic shoes: drop recurrence rate from 83% to 17%
  • Sandals
  • Splints
  • Crutches/wheelchairs
  • Total contact casting
total contact casting
Total Contact Casting
  • Worsens the ulcer if not applied perfectly
  • Need to find a consultant for this task on whom you can rely
other possibly helpful treatments
Other PossiblyHelpful Treatments
  • Moist dressings (clearly better than dry)
  • Hyperbaric O2
  • Dermagraft (cultured skin—human)
  • Platelet-derived growth factor
  • Antibiotics (ineffective if uncomplicated)
  • Questionable effectiveness: U/S, electrical stimulation
pathogens in du infections
Pathogens in DU Infections
  • Mild severity: tend to be Staph and Strep
  • Moderate severity (i.e. non-limb threatening): Staph, Strep, and gram neg
  • Severe/limb-threatening: usually 5 to 6 organisms, including Staph, Strep, E. coli, Enterobacter, Bacteroides, Proteus, Pseudomonas, and MRSA
dx of osteomyelitis in du
Dx of Osteomyelitis in DU
  • Pearl: A steel probe contacting bone, especially if consistency of bone is crumbly, has PPV 89% and NPV 56%
  • MRI best imaging modality; serial films also of some benefit
  • Bone scan non-specific
  • Bone biopsy gold standard
  • Effective treatment: amputation
arterial ulcers au
Arterial Ulcers--AU
  • Tend to occur on distal areas
  • Diminished/absent pulses
  • Punched-out appearance, or gangrene
  • Requires either salvage revascularization, or amputation—usually the latter
diagnosis abi
Diagnosis: ABI
  • ABI= LE systolic BP/Brachial art syst BP
  • ABI < 0.7 abnormal; < 0.4 unlikely to heal
  • Can perform in FMC
  • Values: 0.9-1.30 normal; 0.7-0.89 mild; 0.4-0.69 moderate; < 0.4 severe
medical treatment of au
Medical Treatment of AU
  • Control DM and HTN
  • Moderate exercise
  • Smoking cessation
  • Dry dressings (dry gangrene preferable)
  • ? Pletal, gingko biloba
what works au
What Works: AU
  • Amputation/revascularization/hospice if ABI < 0.4
  • Do not compress if ABI < 0.7