Late amputation may not reduce complications or improve mental health in combat-related, lower extremity limb salvage patients

Chad A. Krueger, Jessica C. Rivera, David J. Tennent, Andrew J. Sheean, Daniel J. Stinner, Joseph C. Wenke

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations

Abstract

Introduction Following severe lower extremity trauma, patients who undergo limb reconstruction and amputations both endure frequent complications and mental health sequelae. The purpose of this study is to assess the extent to which late amputation following a period of limb salvage impacts the evolution of the clinical variables that can affect the patient's perception of his or her limb: ongoing limb associated complications and mental health conditions. Patients and methods A case series of US service members who sustained a late major extremity amputation from September 2001 through July 2011 were analysed. Pre- and post-amputation complications, mental health conditions, and reason(s) for desiring amputation were recorded. Results Forty-four amputees with detailed demographic, injury and treatment data were identified. The most common reasons for desiring a late amputation were pain and being dissatisfied with the function of the salvage limb. An average of 3.2 (range 1-10) complications were reported per amputee prior to undergoing late amputation and an average of 1.8 (range 0-5) complications reported afterwards. The most common complication prior to and after late amputation was soft tissue infection (24 (17%) and 9 (22%), respectively). Twenty-nine (64%) late amputees were diagnosed with a mental health condition prior to undergoing their amputation and 27 (61%) late amputees were diagnosed with mental conditions after late amputation. Only three of the 15 patients who did not have a mental health condition documented prior to their late amputation remained free of a documented mental health condition after the amputation. Discussion Ongoing complications and mental health conditions can affect how a patient perceives and copes with his or her limb following severe trauma. Patient dissatisfaction following limb reconstruction can influence the decision to undergo a late amputation. Patients with a severe, combat related lower extremity injury that are undergoing limb salvage may not have a reduction in their overall complication rate, a resolution of specific complications or an improvement of their mental health after undergoing late amputation. Conclusion Surgeons caring for limb salvage patients should counsel appropriately when managing expectations for a patient who desires a late amputation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1527-1532
Number of pages6
JournalInjury
Volume46
Issue number8
DOIs
StatePublished - Aug 1 2015
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Combat injury
  • Late amputation
  • Limb reconstruction
  • Limb salvage
  • PTSD

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Emergency Medicine
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine

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