Changes in the apparently normal limb in unilateral venous ulceration
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Forty-seven patients with unilateral venous ulceration have been investigated to determine if any abnormalities were present in the contralateral limbs which had not had lipodermatosclerosis or ulceration. Ascending phlebography in the non-ulcerated limbs showed post-thrombotic changes in 28 per cent and incompetent lower leg communicating veins in 19 per cent. This incidence was not significantly different to the limbs with healed ulceration (45 and 23 per cent respectively, chi 2 test, P = 0.10). Half volume refilling time measured by foot volumetry suggested that 79 per cent of the non-ulcerated limbs had evidence of deep vein incompetence or incompetent lower leg communicating veins, which was again similar to the incidence in the previously ulcerated limbs (85 per cent). Transcutaneous oxygen readings, expressed as a ratio of a reading at a standard site in the gaiter region of the leg over a reading from the upper arm, were significantly lower in non-ulcerated limbs (mean 0.84 +/- 0.26 s.d.) than in a cohort of age and sex matched controls (mean 1.02 +/- 0.14, Student's t test, P less than 0.001), and significantly higher than in previously ulcerated limbs (mean 0.68 +/- 0.31, P less than 0.01). Abnormalities in venous anatomy and function have been shown, in conjunction with evidence of reduced oxygen diffusion, through the gaiter skin before overt skin changes develop.
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