OBJECTIVES: To better define the diagnosis and treatment of Martorell hypertensive ischemic leg ulcer (HYTILU) and to compare Martorell HYTILU with calciphylaxis (calcific uremic arteriolopathy) and nonuremic forms of calciphylaxis.
DESIGN: Retrospective study from 1999 through 2007.
SETTING: Department of Dermatology, University Hospital of Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland.
PARTICIPANTS: Of 330 patients with leg ulcers, 31 had a clinical diagnosis of Martorell HYTILU confirmed by dermatopathologic examination.
MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Clinical features, suspected diagnosis at initial presentation, cardiovascular risk factors, findings from vascular examination and histologic analysis, specific medical and surgical management, and outcome.
RESULTS: Of the 31 patients, all presented with 1 or multiple painful necrotic skin ulcers on the laterodorsal part of the leg, with bilateral involvement in 16 of 31 cases (52%), and 16 were referred with suspected pyoderma gangrenosum. All patients had arterial hypertension, and 18 (58%) had diabetes. All patients had subcutaneous stenotic arteriolosclerosis on histologic analysis, with medial calcification in 22 of 31 of cases (71%). Martorell HYTILU, calciphylaxis, and nonuremic forms of calciphylaxis shared identical histologic features. Of the 31 patients, 29 (94%) were successfully treated with surgical debridement and split-thickness skin grafting. Three patients (9%) died of sepsis, 2 of whom were undergoing immunosuppressive treatment for wrongly diagnosed pyoderma gangrenosum.
CONCLUSIONS: Ischemic subcutaneous arteriolosclerosis is the hallmark of Martorell HYTILU, calciphylaxis, and the nonuremic forms of calciphylaxis. All patients are hypertensive and approximately 60% are diabetic. Martorell HYTILU can easily be confused with pyoderma gangrenosum, which can be detrimental, since the 2 diseases require a completely different treatment strategy.