Skin grafting in the treatment of hard-to-heal leg ulcers
AbstractSome risk factors or comorbidities may make Chronic Leg Ulcers (CLU) very difficult to heal. These ulcers are usually defined refractory ulcers and may require an in-hospital intensive care to increase the healing rate. Aim of this retrospective study was to assess if our clinical routine in hospitalized patients, made up with surgical debridement followed by donor skin grafting (allografts), may favor the ulcer healing. The records of 120 patients (55 males and 65 females; mean age 73.9±11.3 years) with ulcers greater than 100 cm2 and lasting for more than 1 year were analyzed. The median ulcer size was 165 cm2 (IQR 130-250 cm2; range 100-1000 cm2). The median ulcer duration was 24 months (IQR 16-32 months; range 12-300 months). The ulcer pathophysiology was venous in 74 patients, arterial in 21, mixed in 12, vasculitis in 5 and post-traumatic in 8 patients. After debridement the patients were submitted to allograft procedures (single or multiple) up to the ulcer healing. When allograft was able to create an effective granulation tissue and reduce the ulcer size an autograft was performed to get the ulcer closure. 109 patients healed and 11 were lost at follow-up. 65 patients healed just with one allograft in 16 weeks (IQR 13-21 weeks). 42 patients healed with 2 procedures in 20 weeks (IQR 18-23 weeks). 31 of them received a final autograft while 11 healed with two allografts. 2 patients with an ulcer surface of 200 cm2, both affected by CLI, healed with 3 allografts procedures in 40 and 33 weeks, respectively. Pain and exudate amount were significantly decreased and even disappeared after the first allograft. Allografts alone or followed by an autograft are able to get the ulcer healing also in case of extensive and long lasting ulcers refractory to all previous treatments.
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