A Challenging Diagnosis of Leg Ulcer
KeywordsMartorell ulcer, hypertensive ulcer, cutaneous pain
Ischaemic ulcers of the lower limb can have several aethiopathological mechanisms. For instance, the uncommon Martorell hypertensive leg ulcer is an infrequent complication of long-term uncontrolled arterial hypertension and is largely ignored and underdiagnosed. The typical ulcer is on the lower leg, is extremely painful and presents in female patients over 60 years of age with cardiovascular risk factors, mainly severe arterial hypertension. The diagnosis is histological, with obliteration of the arterioles by arteriolosclerosis. In these cases, antihypertensive medication is the standard treatment. We describe the case of an African-American female patient with long-term hypertension who presented with a very painful leg ulcer. The diagnosis was complicated by the coexistence of more common causes of ulcer. Despite analgesic medicines, pain relief was only obtained with control of hypertension. A definite diagnosis was made following biopsy.
In describing this diagnosis of an ischaemic leg ulcer, we highlight the need to consider the skin as a target organ of arterial hypertension.