Contact: Beth Barnett Khan
April 30, 2008
CHARLESTON -- More than 2 million Americans suffer from venous leg ulcers that produce chronic pain and disfigure the skin. Venous disorders interfere with proper blood circulation out of the legs that can lead to permanent skin damage and recurring ulcers. The temperature of the lower legs damaged by poor skin circulation is higher than normal, and when temperatures get too high, the skin can ulcerate.
Dr. Teresa Kelechi, Ph.D., R.N., associate professor and nurse researcher at the MUSC College of Nursing, is a pioneer in the use of infrared thermometers to measure skin temperature of the legs affected by venous disorders. Kelechi 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.
It takes approximately four to 12 months for venous ulcers to heal and many will come back several times during an individual¼s lifetime.
Kelechi teaches patients how to monitor their skin temperature with a hand-held infrared thermometer, how to properly elevate the legs, and when to use a special cool gel wrap applied to the skin. Sheís also testing the effects of a new wound healing dressing. Skin temperature is monitored in all of these studies, which gives information about the condition of the skin and can be done by patients in their homes. "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 prevent it."
Founded in 1824 in Charleston, The Medical University of South Carolina is the oldest medical school in the South. Today, MUSC continues the tradition of excellence in education, research, and patient care. MUSC educates and trains more than 3,000 students and residents, and has nearly 11,000 employees, including 1,500 faculty members. As the largest non-federal employer in Charleston, the university and its affiliates have collective annual budgets in excess of $1.6 billion. MUSC operates a 750-bed medical center, which includes a nationally recognized Children's Hospital and a leading Institute of Psychiatry. For more information on academic information or clinical services, visit www.musc.edu or www.muschealth.com.