The medical and economic impact of severely injured lower extremities

J Trauma. 1988 Aug;28(8):1270-3. doi: 10.1097/00005373-198808000-00023.


Modern methods of open fracture management, skeletal fixation, and soft-tissue and bone reconstruction have dramatically improved the potential for limb salvage. The absence of adequate objective parameters on which to base the decision for salvage results in delayed amputations in many cases. The present study was undertaken to review the medical and economic impact of delayed versus primary amputations following severe open fractures of the tibia. From January 1980 to August 1986, 263 patients with grade III open tibia fractures were treated at a major trauma center: 43 ultimately had amputations. This group included 38 males and five females with an average age of 31 years (range, 15-73). All patients were taken to the operating suite for consideration of limb salvage procedures including debridement, fasciotomy, revascularization, or rigid fixation. The standard subjective criteria including color, consistency, bleeding, and contractility were used to determine muscle viability at the time of debridement. If substantial muscle mass was found to be nonviable then amputation was considered. Fourteen (32.6%) of the patients had primary amputations. They averaged 22.3 days hospitalization, 1.6 surgical procedures to the involved lower extremity, and $28,964 hospital costs (range, $5,344-$81,282). The 29 patients with delayed amputations had an average of 53.4 days hospitalization, 6.9 surgical procedures, and $53,462 hospital costs (range, $14,574-$102,434). Six (20.7%) of the delayed amputation patients developed sepsis secondary to their involved lower extremity and died; no patient in the primary amputation group developed sepsis or died.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Amputation / economics*
  • Diagnosis-Related Groups
  • Female
  • Fractures, Open / economics
  • Fractures, Open / surgery*
  • Hospitalization / economics
  • Humans
  • Length of Stay / economics
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Tibial Fractures / economics
  • Tibial Fractures / surgery*
  • Time Factors