Traumatic Finger Amputation in the U.S. Military

James A. Jordan, Michael M. Polmear, Matthew E. Wells, John C. Dunn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Introduction: Finger amputations can lead to loss of work time and suboptimal function, particularly in the active duty military. There is a paucity of epidemiologic and outcome data for these injuries. The purposes of this study are to define key demographic data pertaining to transphalangeal finger amputations in the U.S. Military and to assess epidemiological data to define risk factors for medical readiness following finger injuries. Materials and Methods: This was a retrospective review of the military electronic medical record of encounters between 2016 and 2019 with traumatic transphalangeal amputation ICD 10 codes S68.5 (thumb) and S68.6 (finger). Primary outcomes included median military occupational activity limitation length, ability to return to duty, and medical separation from the military. Results: A total of 235 patients were included in the final dataset. 221 (94.0%) of these service members were able to return to full duty, although 14 (6.0%) underwent medical separation from the military because of their finger injuries. The median limited duty timeline was 6 weeks. Significant risk factors identified that led to increased rates of medical separation were the use of tobacco (odds ratio [OR] of 5.53, 95% CI 1.21-25.29), junior enlisted status (OR of 5.51, 95% CI 1.67-18.17), and thumb or index finger involvement (OR of 3.50, 95% CI 1.13-10.83). Conclusions: Within a physically high-demand population, traumatic finger amputation can limit duties and may lead to medical separation from service. Traumatic finger amputations are common and often require 6 weeks of restricted short-term disability, particularly in a tobacco-using, young, physically active cohort.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)321-325
Number of pages5
JournalMilitary Medicine
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2024
Externally publishedYes


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