Leg ulcers are very common, especially in elderly patients. They can be difficult to treat and may take a long time to get rid of. The commonest cause of leg ulcers is venous disease. This can be diagnosed by an ultrasound scan. They are usually treated by compression bandages which must be applied by someone trained to put them on. Sometimes an operation to fix the venous disease can help in preventing the ulcers from coming back again but such surgery does not help an ulcer to heal.
Ulcers can also be due to disease in the arteries of the leg. In this case, the ulcer is not healing because it is not getting enough blood supply. By improving the blood supply (by an angioplasty or bypass operation) sometimes the ulcer can be cured.
Diabetic patients are particularly prone to foot ulcers. This is because of damage to the nerves in the foot, reduced blood supply and decreased ability to fight infections as found in diabetic patients. Many diabetic patients end up having an amputation if their ulcer is not treated correctly or they leave it for too long. Unfortunatly, the disease of the arteries seen in diabetic patients often makes it very difficult to improve the blood supply to the ulcer. If you are diabetic, you should have your feet assessed regularly by a podiatrist and your toenails cut by an expert (chiropodist)
For those who would like more information use this link. There is a lot of medical and surgical terminology in this document. Link to medical chapter on chronic venous disease and diabetic feet.