Healing of elderly patients with diabetic foot ulcers, venous stasis ulcers, and pressure ulcers

Harold Brem, Marjana Tomic-Canic, Alina Tarnovskaya, H Paul Ehrlich, Edwina Baskin-Bey, Kiran Gill, Miriam Carasa, Sarah Weinberger, Hyacinth Entero, Bruce Vladeck
Surgical Technology International 2003, 11: 161-7
Although elderly patients have physiologic impairments in wound healing, their wounds should be expected to heal with the same frequency of closure as those in younger populations, albeit at a slower rate. However, compared to the general population, the elderly population has a higher incidence of chronic wounds: diabetic foot ulcers, pressure ulcers, and venous stasis ulcers. Experimental and clinical data indicate physiologically impaired healing is characterized by decreased angiogenesis and synthesis of critical growth factors. Further, compared to younger populations, the elderly have a higher rate of mortality associated with specific morbidities, such as sepsis and acute respiratory distress. As these morbidities may develop directly from the wound, early intervention is mandated. In this report, 40 consecutive elderly patients (65-102 years old) with chronic wounds were analyzed. All patients were provided the same treatment protocol and healing was defined as 100% epithelization and no drainage. Despite the wounds presenting in a nonhealing and/or infected state, 73% of these chronic wounds in elderly patients healed. This suggests that elderly patients with diabetic foot ulcers, pressure ulcers, and venous stasis ulcers close their wounds at a similar frequency as younger patients. Therefore, early intervention and comprehensive treatment that includes safe topical therapies, in addition to growth factors and cellular therapy used for chronic wounds, ensure these patients will be spared the morbidities of pain, amputation, osteomyelitis, and even death. We hypothesize that if all elderly patients with chronic wounds are provided early treatment, morbidities (e.g., amputation, sepsis, pain) and associated costs will decrease.

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