leg ulceration

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Chronic ulceration of the leg is a disruption of the epidermis and dermis in the lower limb of more than 6 weeks in duration and shows no tendency to heal after 3 months of appropriate treatment or is still not fully healed at 12 months (1,2).

  • it affects elderly people more frequently and can be extremely expensive to manage
    • in the UK, the cost of chronic leg ulceration is estimated to be approximately £600 million per annum
  • the impact of leg ulceration on the health-related quality of life is of the same order as diabetes and arthritis (1)

A typical history is one of relapsing ulceration over decades.

Leg ulceration may be classified by aetiological frequency into

  • venous - 70% of leg ulcers      
  • arterial -10% of leg ulcers
  • mixed disease - 15% of leg ulcers
  • less common causes - 5% of leg ulcers (2)


Last reviewed 03/2021