Surgical Removal of Ulcer and Lipodermatosclerosis Followed by Split-Skin Grafting (Shave Therapy) Yields Good Long-term Results in "Non-healing" Venous Leg Ulcers
Wilfried Schmeller, Yvonne Gaber
The purpose of this study was to evaluate the long-term effects of shave therapy in non-healing venous leg ulcers. Forty-one patients with 75 recalcitrant leg ulcers caused by primary deep vein incompetence or post-thrombotic syndrome were operated by shave therapy (removal of ulcer and surrounding lipodermatosclerosis with a Schink skin-grafting knife and covering of the wounds with meshed split-thickness skin grafts). After an average follow-up period of 2 years and 5 months all patients were evaluated for long-term results. The healing rate of ulcers classified as non-healing was 67% (50 of 75 ulcers). The healing rate was 76% for ulcers associated with primary deep vein incompetence and 58% for ulcers associated with post-thrombotic syndrome (p =0.08). Even in cases with recurrence (33%) these ulcers were strikingly reduced by 80-90% of their original size. Hypaesthesia was noticed in 38% of the transplanted areas. In "non-healing" venous leg ulcers due to deep venous insufficiency shave therapy yields favourable long-term results. Because it is only a symptomatic treatment which does not reduce the pathological refluxes, continuous compression of the lower leg is important.