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Temperature likely factor in venous
The following article is dedicated to
National Nurses Week, which began May 6 and concludes May 12, Florence
More than two million Americans suffer from venous leg ulcers that
produce chronic pain and disfigure the skin. Research led by an MUSC
nurse is looking at ways to identify risk factors of venous leg ulcers
and prevent and ease the suffering of patients that experience them.
Venous leg ulcers result from a vascular disorder in which proper blood
circulation from the legs is impaired. This impaired blood flow can
lead to permanent skin damage and recurring ulcers.
Teresa Kelechi, Ph.D., R.N., associate professor and nurse researcher
at the MUSC College of Nursing, said that the temperature of the lower
legs damaged by poor skin circulation becomes elevated, and when
temperatures get too high, the skin can ulcerate.
Kelechi has pioneered the use of infrared thermometers to measure skin
temperature of the legs affected by venous disorders. She is a
certified wound care nurse and is currently conducting two studies that
involve patients with chronic venous disorders.
The goal of her research is to find out if different treatments can
reduce skin temperature, improve the skin circulation and prevent
ulcers from reappearing. While it takes about four to 12 months for
venous ulcers to heal, many will come back several times during an
individual’s lifetime, she said.
Kelechi shows patients how to monitor their skin temperature with a
handheld infrared thermometer. If temperatures rise above normal
levels, she teaches them to properly elevate the legs, and to apply a
special cool gel wrap to the skin to cool it, when necessary. Kelechi
also is testing the effects of a new wound-healing dressing on venous
Skin temperature is monitored in all of these studies, which can be
done by patients in their homes, to provide information about the
condition of their skin.
“This is a very unique approach to the care of the patient, because it
allows patients to measure and monitor temperature, a skin vital sign,”
said Kelechi. “Changes in the temperature could be an early warning
sign of an impending ulcer, and patients could take rapid action to
Friday, May 9, 2008
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