Quality of life after amputation in patients with advanced complex regional pain syndrome: a systematic review

EFORT Open Rev. 2019 Sep 3;4(9):533-540. doi: 10.1302/2058-5241.4.190008. eCollection 2019 Sep.


The majority of included studies (8 out of 11, n = 54) supported the concept of considering amputation for selected, unresponsive cases of complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS) as a justifiable alternative to an unsuccessful multimodality nonoperative option.Of patients who underwent amputation, 66% experienced improvement in quality of life (QOL) and 37% were able to use a prosthesis, 16% had an obvious decline in QOL and for 12% of patients, no clear details were given, although it was suggested by authors that these patients also encountered deterioration after amputation.Complications of phantom limb pain, recurrence of CRPS and stump pain were predominant risks and were noticed in 65%, 45% and 30% of cases after amputation, respectively and two-thirds of patients were satisfied.Amputation can be considered by clinicians and patients as an option to improve QOL and to relieve agonizing, excruciating pain of severe, resistant CRPS at a specialized centre after multidisclipinary involvement but it must be acknowledged that evidence is limited, and the there are risks of aggravating or recurrence of CRPS, phantom pain and unpredictable consequences of rehabilitation.Amputation, if considered for resistant CRPS, should be carried out at specialist centres and after MDT involvement before and after surgery. It should only be considered if requested by patients with poor quality of life who have failed to improve after multiple treatment modalities.Further high quality and comprehensive research is needed to understand the severe form of CRPS which behaves differently form less severe stages. Cite this article: EFORT Open Rev 2019;4:533-540. DOI: 10.1302/2058-5241.4.190008.

Keywords: CRPS; amputation; complications; criteria; pain; phantom pain; quality of life.

Publication types

  • Review