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Clinical assessment of wounds

David G Armstrong, DPM, MD, PhD
Andrew J Meyr, DPM
Section Editors
Hilary Sanfey, MD
John F Eidt, MD
Joseph L Mills, Sr, MD
Russell S Berman, MD
Deputy Editor
Kathryn A Collins, MD, PhD, FACS


A wound represents a disruption of the normal structure and function of the skin and soft tissue structure and may be due to a variety of mechanisms and etiologies [1]. The clinical assessment of wounds begins with a determination of whether the wound is acute or chronic in nature. Acute wounds are those in which healing is anticipated to progress through an orderly physiologic sequence of inflammation, proliferation, and maturation [2,3]. A chronic wound may be defined as one that is physiologically impaired because of inadequate angiogenesis, impaired innervation, or impaired cellular migration, among other reasons [4]. Examples of chronic wounds include ischemic ulcers, venous ulcers, diabetic foot ulcers, and infected wounds, including surgical site infections [5,6]. Healed chronic wounds, particularly diabetic foot ulcers, should be considered "wounds in remission" and at very high risk for recurrence.  

The clinical assessment of acute and chronic wounds, including differentiating the most common chronic ulcers, will be reviewed. Treatment of chronic wounds is discussed separately.

(See "Basic principles of wound management".)

(See "Overview of treatment of chronic wounds".)

(See "Management of diabetic foot ulcers".)

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Literature review current through: Nov 2017. | This topic last updated: Aug 30, 2017.
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