Background: Declining amputation rates have been reported in multiple countries in recent years. It is not yet known whether amputation rates have declined in Germany as well.
Methods: On the basis of DRG (diagnosis-related group) data, we received a list from the German Federal Statistical Office of all major and minor amputations documented in German hospitals from 2005 to 2014. Changes over this period were studied with linear regression.
Results: The absolute number of amputations per year in Germany rose slightly from 55 689 in 2005 to 57 637 (+3.5%) in 2014. After the exclusion of cases in which the main diagnosis was trauma, intoxication, musculoskeletal disease, diseases of the skin and subcutaneous tissue, or neoplasia, the corresponding numbers were 48 043 in 2005 and 48 561 in 2014 (+1.1%). The age-adjusted rate of major amputations per 100 000 persons per year fell from 23.3 to 16.1 (-30.9%), while the rate of minor amputations rose from 35.0 to 43.9 (+25.4%). The percentage of major amputations that took place in patients with diabetes mellitus as the main diagnosis or a side diagnosis declined from 70.2% to 63.7%. For all of these changes, p <0.0001.
Conclusion: From 2005 to 2014, the major amputation rate fell by 30.9% while the minor amputation rate rose by 25.4%. The goal of lowering amputation rates still further will be best served not only by applying the recognized preventive measures in patients with foot lesions, but also by further research into the causes of the recent changes in amputation numbers. Prospective registries will be needed.