Conversion From Limb Salvage to Late Amputation: Lessons Learned From Recent Battlefields With Application to Civilian Trauma


Battlefield injuries and high-energy civilian trauma present orthopaedic surgeons with treatment challenges. Despite efforts at limb salvage, some patients elect late amputation. This article reviews risk factors that predispose to late amputation. Using a MEDLINE search, English language peer-reviewed articles from 1993 to 2013 having data on late amputation following limb salvage were included. Late lower extremity amputation after limb salvage varied from 3.9% to 40% in civilian patients and from 5.2% to 15.2% in military patients. Factors influencing a patient’s decision to undergo late amputation included a combination of complex pain symptoms with neurologic dysfunction, infection, a desire for improved limb functionality, and unwillingness to endure an often complicated and lengthy course of treatment. In military patients, rank was a significant risk factor since officers were 2.5 times more likely to elect late amputation (p < .05) than enlisted personnel. Despite often extraordinary efforts toward limb salvage, results may be disappointing. ( Journal of Surgical Orthopaedic Advances 24(3):170–173, 2015) Key words: amputation late, battlefield injuries, civilian trauma, limb salvage

SKU: JSOA-2015-24-3-F4 Categories: , Tags: , , ,

CAPT D. C. Covey, MC, USN (Ret.)