Objectives: To examine 12-month reamputation and mortality rates as well as acute and postacute medical care costs among a large cohort of persons with dysvascular amputations.
Design: Retrospective cohort study.
Setting: General community.
Participants: Medicare beneficiaries identified from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services data as undergoing a lower-limb amputation secondary to vascular disease in 1996.
Interventions: Not applicable.
Main outcome measures: Twelve-month reamputation and mortality rates, and acute and postacute medical care costs, by initial amputation level and presence or absence of diabetes.
Results: A total of 3565 persons, corresponding to 71,300 Medicare beneficiaries nationwide, were identified from the claims data as undergoing lower-limb amputations in 1996. Twenty-six percent of them required subsequent amputation procedures within 12 months, and more than one third died within 1 year of their index amputation. Acute and postacute medical care costs associated with caring for beneficiaries with a dysvascular amputation exceeded $4.3 billion yearly. There were marked differences in patient characteristics, progression of amputation to higher levels, service use, and mortality among dysvascular amputees with and without a comorbidity of diabetes. Diabetic amputees were younger than those without diabetes; they were also more likely to be men, to have more comorbidities, and to have undergone their first amputation at an earlier age than persons with dysvascular amputations who did not have diabetes. Although diabetic amputees were less likely to die within 12 months of the index amputation, they died at a significantly younger age than their nondiabetic counterparts. Progression to a higher level of limb loss occurred most frequently (34.5%) among persons with an initial foot or ankle amputation. Diabetic amputees were more likely than nondiabetic amputees to experience progression to a higher amputation level for all initial amputation levels.
Conclusions: This study provides information that can be used by physicians when counseling patients about expected outcomes of dysvascular amputations at different levels.