Venous leg ulcers

E. Andrea Nelson, Una Adderley

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

53 Citations (Scopus)


INTRODUCTION: Leg ulcers usually occur secondary to venous reflux or obstruction, but 20% of people with leg ulcers have arterial disease, with or without venous disorders. Between 1.5 and 3.0 in 1000 people have active leg ulcers. Prevalence increases with age to about 20 in 1000 people aged over 80 years.

METHODS AND OUTCOMES: We conducted a systematic overview, aiming to answer the following clinical questions: What are the effects of treatments for venous leg ulcers? What are the effects of organisational interventions for venous leg ulcers? What are the effects of advice about self-help interventions in people receiving usual care for venous leg ulcers? What are the effects of interventions to prevent recurrence of venous leg ulcers? We searched: Medline, Embase, The Cochrane Library, and other important databases up to March 2014 (Clinical Evidence overviews are updated periodically; please check our website for the most up-to-date version of this overview).

RESULTS: At this update, searching of electronic databases retrieved 116 studies. After deduplication and removal of conference abstracts, 63 records were screened for inclusion in the overview. Appraisal of titles and abstracts led to the exclusion of 43 studies and the further review of 20 full publications. Of the 20 full articles evaluated, four systematic reviews were updated and four RCTs were added at this update. We performed a GRADE evaluation for 23 PICO combinations.

CONCLUSIONS: In this systematic overview, we categorised the efficacy for 13 interventions based on information about the effectiveness and safety of advice to elevate leg, advice to keep leg active, compression stockings for prevention of recurrence, compression bandages and stockings to treat venous leg ulcers, laser treatment (low level), leg ulcer clinics, pentoxifylline, skin grafting, superficial vein surgery for prevention of recurrence, superficial vein surgery to treat venous leg ulcers, therapeutic ultrasound, and topical negative pressure.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1902
JournalBMJ clinical evidence
Publication statusPublished - 15 Jan 2016
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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