Leg and Foot Ulcers | Treatments | MedStar Health

When the blood vessels in your legs don’t function as they should, your legs and feet may not get the oxygen or nutrients they need or blood can begin to pool and cause pressure to build. These problems can lead to the development of ulcers.

Ulcers are open sores that are long-lasting, keep returning and are resistant to treatment. These sores may cause swelling, itching, burning, or skin that’s dry or scaly.

The three most common types of leg and foot ulcers are:

  • Arterial (ischemic) ulcers, which often develop on the heels, tips of the toes, or between the toes

  • Neurotrophic (diabetic) ulcers, which usually develop on the pressure points of the bottom of the feet but can occur anywhere on the foot

  • Venous stasis ulcers, which are found on the inner part of the leg near the ankles

Vascular conditions that can contribute to chronic open sores

Foot and leg ulcers are often caused by diabetes or poor blood circulation. Vascular conditions that can cause leg and foot ulcers include:


Our specialists may recommend one or more diagnostic and imaging procedures to diagnose leg and foot ulcers, along with any underlying condition that may be causing them.

Angiogram (Angiography)

An angiogram is a special X-ray taken as a special dye is injected through a thin, flexible tube called a catheter to detect blockages or aneurysms in blood vessels.

Arterial Duplex Ultrasound for Arms and Legs

Arterial duplex ultrasound uses Doppler and traditional ultrasound to assess blood flow in the arteries of your arms and legs.

Computerized Tomography (CT) Scan

The cardiac computed tomography scan, or cardiac CT, uses X-rays to create three-dimensional images of your heart and blood vessels.


A fluoroscopy is an imaging technique that uses a continuous X-ray beam passed through the body to create real-time, moving images of your internal structures.

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)

Magnetic resonance imaging, better known as cardiac MRI, is a combination of radio waves, magnets and computer technology used to create images of your heart and blood vessels.


Our heart and vascular teams work together with wound care specialists to develop and implement individualized plans to prevent and treat leg and foot ulcers. This could include lifestyle modifications, medication or more advanced treatments.

Limb Salvage

Limb salvage is a form of treatment our vascular surgeons use as an alternative to amputation for patients with severe peripheral artery disease, or PAD.

Vascular Disease Treatments

Vascular disease treatments address conditions that affect the blood vessels, which can cause blood flow to become decreased, interrupted or slowed.

Venous Disease Treatments

Venous disease treatment may include medications, minimally invasive and surgical procedures to improve blood flow and circulation.


Have questions for our heart and vascular program? Email us at AskMHVI@medstar.net.