Unilateral lower limb loss following combat injury: Medium-term outcomes in British military amputees

Royal Centre for Defence Medicine (RCDM), Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Edgbaston, Birmingham B15 2TH, UK.
Bone and Joint Journal (Impact Factor: 1.96). 02/2013; 95-B(2):224-9. DOI: 10.1302/0301-620X.95B2.30365
Source: PubMed


This is a case series of prospectively gathered data characterising the injuries, surgical treatment and outcomes of consecutive British service personnel who underwent a unilateral lower limb amputation following combat injury. Patients with primary, unilateral loss of the lower limb sustained between March 2004 and March 2010 were identified from the United Kingdom Military Trauma Registry. Patients were asked to complete a Short-Form (SF)-36 questionnaire. A total of 48 patients were identified: 21 had a trans-tibial amputation, nine had a knee disarticulation and 18 had an amputation at the trans-femoral level. The median New Injury Severity Score was 24 (mean 27.4 (9 to 75)) and the median number of procedures per residual limb was 4 (mean 5 (2 to 11)). Minimum two-year SF-36 scores were completed by 39 patients (81%) at a mean follow-up of 40 months (25 to 75). The physical component of the SF-36 varied significantly between different levels of amputation (p = 0.01). Mental component scores did not vary between amputation levels (p = 0.114). Pain (p = 0.332), use of prosthesis (p = 0.503), rate of re-admission (p = 0.228) and mobility (p = 0.087) did not vary between amputation levels. These findings illustrate the significant impact of these injuries and the considerable surgical burden associated with their treatment. Quality of life is improved with a longer residual limb, and these results support surgical attempts to maximise residual limb length. Cite this article: Bone Joint J 2013;95-B:224-9.

12 Reads
  • Source
    • "Results from this group of patients were then compared to those of a similar group of unilateral trans-tibial amputees that has previously been published [4]. Patients with an open tibia fracture and contralateral lower limb amputation were excluded from this comparison. "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Extremity injuries define the surgical burden of recent conflicts. Current literature is inconclusive when assessing the merits of limb salvage over amputation. The aim of this study was to determine medium term functional outcomes in military casualties undergoing limb salvage for severe open tibia fractures, and compare them to equivalent outcomes for unilateral trans-tibial amputees. Cases of severe open diaphyseal tibia fractures sustained in combat between 2006 and 2010, as described in a previously published series, were contacted. Consenting individuals conducted a brief telephone interview and were asked to complete a SF-36 questionnaire. These results were compared to a similar cohort of 18 military patients who sustained a unilateral trans-tibial amputation between 2004 and 2010. Forty-nine patients with 57 severe open tibia fractures met the inclusion criteria. Telephone follow-up and SF-36 questionnaire data was available for 30 patients (61%). The median follow-up was 4 years (49 months, IQR 39-63). Ten of the 30 patients required revision surgery, three of which involved conversion from initial fixation to a circular frame for non- or mal-union. Twenty-two of the 30 patients (73%) recovered sufficiently to complete an age-standardised basic military fitness test. The median physical component score of SF-36 in the limb salvage group was 46 (IQR 35-54) which was similar to the trans-tibial amputation cohort (p=0.3057, Mann-Whitney). Similarly there was no difference in mental component scores between the limb salvage and amputation groups (p=0.1595, Mann-Whitney). There was no significant difference in the proportion of patients in either the amputation or limb salvage group reporting pain (p=0.1157, Fisher's exact test) or with respect to SF-36 physical pain scores (p=0.5258, Mann-Whitney). This study demonstrates that medium term outcomes for military patients are similar following trans-tibial amputation or limb salvage following combat trauma.
    Full-text · Article · Dec 2014 · Injury
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: The aim of this study was to characterise injury patterns and examine whether survival had improved over the last decade of conflict in Iraq and Afghanistan. A logistical regression model was applied to all UK casualty data from the Joint Theatre Trauma Registry. There were 2785 casualties over the 10-years. 72% of casualties from hostile action were injured by blast weapons. The extremities were the post commonly injured body region, being involved in 43% of all injuries sustained. The New Injury Severity Score that was observed to be associated with a 50% chance of survival rose every year from 38 in 2003 to 62 in 2012. The odds ratio of surviving with a Trauma and Injury Severity Score (TRISS) of 50% rose by 1.349 (95% CI = 1.265–1.442) per year. The actual TRISS value associated with a 50% chance of survival dropped every year from 35.3% in 2003 to 0.9 in 2010 and was un-calculable in 2011–12. This study confirms that the last decade of conflict has been characterised by blast wounds and injuries involving the extremities. A consistent improvement in survival over the 10 years has been demonstrated, to the point that traditional metrics for measuring improvement in trauma care have been exhausted.
    Full-text · Conference Paper · Sep 2013
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Background This study aims to characterise the injuries and surgical management of British servicemen sustaining bilateral lower limb amputations. Methods The UK Military Trauma Registry was searched for all cases of primary bilateral lower limb amputation sustained between March 2004 and March 2010. Amputations were excluded if they occurred more than 7 days after injury or if they were at the ankle or more distal. Results There were 1694 UK military patients injured or killed during this six-year study period. Forty-three of these (2.8%) were casualties with bilateral lower limb amputations. All casualties were men with a mean age of 25.1 years (SD 4.3): all were injured in Afghanistan by Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs). Six casualties were in vehicles when they were injured with the remaining 37 (80%) patrolling on foot. The mean New Injury Severity Score (NISS) was 48.2 (SD 13.2): four patients had a maximum score of 75. The mean TRISS probability of survival was 60% (SD 39.4), with 18 having a survival probability of less than 50% i.e. unexpected survivors. The most common amputation pattern was bilateral trans-femoral (TF) amputations, which was seen in 25 patients (58%). Nine patients also lost an upper limb (triple amputation): no patients survived loss of all four limbs. In retained upper limbs extensive injuries to the hands and forearms were common, including loss of digits. Six patients (14%) sustained an open pelvic fracture. Perineal/genital injury was a feature in 19 (44%) patients, ranging from unilateral orchidectomy to loss of genitalia and permanent requirement for colostomy and urostomy. The mean requirement for blood products was 66 units (SD = 41.7). The maximum transfusion was 12 units of platelets, 94 packed red cells, 8 cryoprecipitate, 76 units of fresh frozen plasma and 3 units of fresh whole blood, a total of 193 units of blood products. Conclusions Our findings detail the severe nature of these injuries together with the massive surgical and resuscitative efforts required to firstly keep patients alive and secondly reconstruct and prepare them for rehabilitation.
    Full-text · Article · Jul 2014 · Injury
Show more