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Kidney Diseases

Weeping Edema

07/03/2008

Question:

My grandfather who is 89 has what I believe is weeping leg edema. He started going to dialysis about 3 weeks ago even though he should have started 2 years ago. My concern is that I have been taking care of his legs and the right leg is mostly healed meaning it`s dry but the sore is still there. On the left leg the sore is also healing but what I am noticing is that he has a black spot which seems to be growing along with this spot little blisters form and then weep. Do you have any idea what this black looking spot could be. I`ve asked all his doctors which include a Vascular, Renal and GP doctor and I`m given a baffeled look with a I dont know stare. I`ve made appointments with a skin doctor and a wound center but there not for a couple of weeks. Wondering if you`ve ever come across this and if so do you have any advice on what I should do or where else I should take him. Thanks for your time. Sincerely

Answer:

Black skin usually means that the tissue has died from lack of blood flow.  Your grandfather (especially if he is diabetic) is likely to have narrowing or blockage of the tiny arteries that supply the skin, leading to insufficient blood supply and inability to heal when a small break in the skin, such as a sore or ulcer, occurs. 

If this is what is happening with your grandfather, it is important to get the problem taken care of as soon as possible, by having a physician scrape away the dead skin and prescribe an antibiotic if there is any sign of infection in the remaining skin and underlying tissue.  Otherwise, serious widespread infection, and even loss of the leg, may result. 

If your primary physician cannot see him and help him immediately, he could go to an urgent care center or an emergency room.  Generally, a vascular surgeon would handle a problem like this: is it possible for you get an appointment with one?  Your grandfather is lucky to have someone as careful and concerned as you taking care of him. 

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Response by:

Mildred   Lam, MD Mildred Lam, MD
Associate Professor of Medicine
School of Medicine
Case Western Reserve University