Incidence, acute care length of stay, and discharge to rehabilitation of traumatic amputee patients: an epidemiologic study

Arch Phys Med Rehabil. 1998 Mar;79(3):279-87. doi: 10.1016/s0003-9993(98)90007-7.


Objective: To examine patterns of trauma-related amputations over time by age and gender of the patient and by level and type of amputation, and to explore factors affecting acute care length of stay and discharge to inpatient rehabilitation.

Design: Population-based hospital discharge data for Maryland from 1979 through 1993.

Participants: Patients (N = 6,069) discharged with either (1) a principal or secondary diagnosis of a trauma-related amputation to the upper or lower extremity or (2) a procedure code for a lower or upper limb amputation in combination with a principal diagnosis of an extremity injury or injury-related complication.

Results: Incidence of major amputations declined 3.4% (p < .05) annually from 1.88 per 100,000 in 1979 to 1.07 per 100,000 in 1993. Incidence of minor amputations declined 4.8% (p < .05) annually from 10.8 per 100,000 in 1979 to 4.7 per 100,000 in 1993. Acute care length of stay for trauma-related amputations declined 40% over the study period and was significantly affected by the patient's payer source, amputation level, and injury characteristics. Of the patients with a major amputation, 15% were discharged to inpatient rehabilitation; 60% were discharged directly home. More proximal amputation levels, presence of severe injuries to other body systems, and acute care at a designated trauma center significantly increased the likelihood of disposition to inpatient rehabilitation. The leading causes of trauma-related amputation were injuries involving machinery (40.1%), powered tools and appliances (27.8%), firearms (8.5%), and motor vehicle crashes (8%).

Conclusions: Findings suggest a substantial decline in incidence rates of both major and minor amputations over the 15-year study period, a low rate of disposition to inpatient rehabilitation services of patients sustaining major amputations, and an apparent role of firearms as a cause of trauma-related amputations in patients younger than 25 years of age. The consequences of increasingly shorter acute care hospital stays and low rates of discharge to inpatient rehabilitation on the long-term outcomes of persons who have had traumatic amputation should be examined.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Amputation, Traumatic / epidemiology*
  • Amputation, Traumatic / rehabilitation*
  • Arm Injuries / epidemiology*
  • Arm Injuries / rehabilitation
  • Arm Injuries / surgery
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Infant
  • Leg Injuries / epidemiology*
  • Leg Injuries / rehabilitation
  • Leg Injuries / surgery
  • Length of Stay / statistics & numerical data*
  • Male
  • Maryland / epidemiology
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient Discharge / statistics & numerical data*
  • Rehabilitation Centers / statistics & numerical data