Objectives: This report describes trends in the rates of lower-extremity amputation and revascularization procedures and vascular disease risk factors.
Methods: We analyzed trends in National Hospital Discharge Survey data for 1979 through 1996 and in National Health Interview Study data for 1983 through 1994.
Results: Despite a decline between 1983/84 and 1991/92, by 1995/96 the rate of major amputation had increased 10.6% since 1979/80. The earlier 12-year decline was positively correlated with reductions in the prevalence of smoking (r = 0.88, P < .0001), hypertension (r = 0.65, P = .02), and heart disease (r = 0.73, P = .007), but not diabetes (r = -0.33, P = .29). During the 1980s, amputation and angioplasty rates were inversely correlated (r = -0.75, P = .001), but the decline in amputation rates occurred before the increase in angioplasty. The major amputation rate, which has increased since 1993, was 24.95 per 100,000 people in 1996.
Conclusions: Major amputation rates fell in the years following the diffusion of distal bypass surgery but before the widespread use of peripheral angioplasty. Because disease prevalence and primary amputation rates are unknown, it is difficult to estimate the contribution of recent improvements in vascular surgery to limb preservation.