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Amputation

Amputation of Leg

07/10/2006

Question:

I know a middle aged lady who recently had her leg amputated due to complications of leg artery disease. I saw here that "The five year survival rate for all lower extremity amputees is less than 50%." Am I missing something or are her chances of dying in the next 5 years greater than 50%? I thought many amputees go on to live long lives.

Answer:

These statistics are, indeed, grim. To maximize survival and function following a lower limb amputation due to vascular disease, a person who smokes absolutely must stop smoking and also avoid second-hand smoke, and a person with diabetes must achieve optimum control over their blood sugars. Also, once a person who has undergone amputation recovers from surgery, they are encouraged to walk - preferably wearing a prosthesis on the amputated side - as much as they are able to potentially improve arterial circulation into both legs.

You are correct that many amputees do go on to live long and productive lives, particularly if their amputation was due to trauma or a curable cancer, rather than peripheral vascular disease.

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Response by:

Brian L Bowyer, MD Brian L Bowyer, MD
Clinical Associate Professor
Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation
College of Medicine
The Ohio State University