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Journal of Community Nursing (JCN) | February 2019

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Understanding the differential diagnosis of leg ulcers: focus on atypical ulcers

Understanding the differential diagnosis of leg ulcers: focus on atypical ulcers
Wound Care

Article topics: Arterial leg ulcers, Assessment, Atypical ulcers, Chronic wounds, Differential diagnosis, Venous leg ulcers

The suboptimal management of leg ulcers has been identified as a UK-wide problem that involves a high financial and personal cost (Guest et al, 2015). One common omission identified in the care of patients with a leg ulcer is a failure to establish the underlying aetiology of the wound. Ideally, an accurate leg ulcer diagnosis should initiate the appropriate therapy, which should, in turn, facilitate healing; however, an inaccurate diagnosis at the outset means that the patient may not be started on an appropriate management pathway. Although vascular disorders are the major cause of leg ulcers, there are other aetiologies that should be considered when the leg ulcer has failed to respond to evidencebased therapy (Rayner et al, 2009). This article outlines some of the atypical leg ulcer types the author has encountered, as well as detailing the signs that were identified within the assessment process and which allowed the author to formulate an accurate diagnosis.