Chronic leg ulcers in adult patients with rheumatological diseases – a 7-year retrospective review


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Abstract

Chronic leg ulcers in patients with rheumatological diseases can cause significant morbidity. We performed a retrospective case review to describe the epidemiology, clinical features and outcome of chronic leg ulcers in this group of patients. Twenty-nine patients with underlying rheumatological conditions, such as, rheumatoid arthritis (15 patients), systemic lupus erythematosus (8 patients), overlap syndromes (3 patients), systemic sclerosis (1 patient) and ankylosing spondylitis (1 patient) were included. The ulcers were mostly located around the ankle (55·2%) and calves (37·9%). The predominant aetiology of the ulcers, in decreasing order of frequency, was venous disease, multifactorial, vasculitis or vasculopathy, infective, pyoderma gangrenosum, ischaemic microangiopathy and iatrogenic. Treatment modalities included aggressive wound bed preparation, compression therapy (17 patients), changes in immunosuppressive therapy (15 patients), hyperbaric oxygen therapy (4 patients) and cellular skin grafting (2 patients). Management of chronic leg ulcers in rheumatological patients is challenging and the importance of careful clinicopathological correlation and treatment of the underlying cause cannot be overemphasised.

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