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Approach to diagnosing lower extremity ulcers


  • Conflict of interest: The authors have no conflicts of interests with respect to the materials presented in the manuscript.

Address correspondence and reprint requests to: David J. Margolis, MD, PhD, Professor of Dermatology and Epidemiology, Dermatology and Epidemiology, University of Pennsylvania, 901 Blockley Hall 423 Guardian Drive, Philadelphia, PA 19104, or email:


Chronic leg ulcers (as differentiated from wound of the foot) are most often due to venous disease, arterial insufficiency (peripheral arterial disease), or a combination of both. Treatment modalities vary depending on the etiology of the ulcer, so it is important to make an appropriate diagnosis of the wound. Like for most medical illnesses, the determination of the etiology of these wounds is based on history, physical examination, and testing.