Long-Term Health Outcomes of Limb Salvage Compared with Amputation for Combat-Related Trauma

Jordan G. Tropf, Benjamin W. Hoyt, Sarah A. Walsh, Jeffery A. Gibson, Elizabeth M. Polfer, Jason M. Souza, Benjamin K. Potter*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Background:There are little long-term health data, particularly in terms of body composition and development of metabolic syndromes, to help surgeons to guide the decision between limb salvage and amputation in patients with limb-threatening trauma. The purpose of this study was to compare long-term health outcomes after high-energy lower-extremity trauma between patients who underwent attempted flap-based limb salvage or amputation.Methods:We performed a retrospective review of servicemembers with a minimum 10-year follow-up who underwent flap-based limb salvage followed by unilateral amputation or continued limb salvage after combat-related, lower-extremity trauma between 2005 and 2011. Patient demographic characteristics, injury characteristics, and health outcomes including body mass index (BMI) and development of metabolic disease (e.g., hyperlipidemia, hypertension, heart disease, and diabetes) were compared between treatment cohorts. Adjusted BMIs were calculated for the amputation cohort to account for lost surface area. We performed multivariable and propensity score analysis to determine the likelihood of developing obesity or metabolic disease.Results:In this study, 110 patients had available long-term follow-up (mean, 12.2 years) from the time of the injury. Fifty-six patients underwent limb salvage and 54 patients underwent unilateral amputation. There was no difference in preinjury BMI (p = 0.30). After adjusting for limb loss, the amputation cohort had a trend toward higher BMIs at & ge;1 years after the injury, a higher rate of obesity, and a greater increase in BMI from baseline after the injury. The development of metabolic comorbidities was common after both amputation (23 [43%] of 54) and limb salvage (27 [48%] of 56). With the numbers available, we were unable to demonstrate a difference in risk for the development of hypertension, hyperlipidemia, diabetes, heart disease, or any comorbidity other than obesity (p & gt; 0.05).Conclusions:Amputations may be medically necessary and may decrease pain, improve mobility, and/or expedite return to activity compared with limb salvage after similar injuries. However, limb loss may negatively impact metabolic regulation and may contribute to a higher risk of obesity despite beneficial effects on mobility.Level of Evidence:Therapeutic Level III. See Instructions for Authors for a complete description of levels of evidence.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1867-1874
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Bone and Joint Surgery
Issue number23
StatePublished - 6 Dec 2023
Externally publishedYes


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