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Reoperations Following Combat-Related Upper-Extremity Amputations
LT Scott M. Tintle, MD1; LTC Martin F. Baechler, MD1; CDR George P. Nanos, MD1; LCDR Jonathan A. Forsberg, MD1; MAJ Benjamin K. Potter, MD1
1 Orthopaedic Surgery Service, Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, 8901 Rockville Pike, Bethesda, MD 20889. E-mail address for B.K. Potter: kyle.potter@us.army.mil
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Investigation performed at the Orthopaedic Surgery Service, Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, Bethesda, Maryland

The views expressed in this abstract are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Department of the Navy, Army, Department of Defense, or U.S. Government.

Disclosure: None of the authors received payments or services, either directly or indirectly (i.e., via his or her institution), from a third party in support of any aspect of this work. None of the authors, or their institution(s), have had any financial relationship, in the thirty-six months prior to submission of this work, with any entity in the biomedical arena that could be perceived to influence or have the potential to influence what is written in this work. Also, no author has had any other relationships, or has engaged in any other activities, that could be perceived to influence or have the potential to influence what is written in this work. The complete Disclosures of Potential Conflicts of Interest submitted by authors are always provided with the online version of the article.

Copyright © 2012 by The Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery, Inc.
J Bone Joint Surg Am, 2012 Aug 15;94(16):e119 1-6. doi: 10.2106/JBJS.K.00197
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Amputation revision rates following major upper-extremity amputations have not been previously reported in a large cohort of patients. We hypothesized that the revision rates following major upper-extremity amputation were higher than the existing literature would suggest, and that surgical treatment of complications and persistent symptoms would lead to improved outcomes.


We performed a retrospective analysis of a consecutive series of ninety-six combat-wounded personnel who had sustained a total of 100 major upper-extremity amputations in Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom. Prerevision and postrevision outcome measures, including prosthesis use and type, the presence of phantom and residual limb pain, pain medication use, and return to active military duty, were identified for all patients.


All amputations resulted from high-energy trauma, with 87% occurring secondary to a blast injury. Forty-two residual limbs (42%) underwent a total of 103 repeat surgical interventions. As compared with patients with all other levels of amputation, those with a transradial amputation were 4.7 (95% confidence interval [CI]: 1.75 to 12.46) times more likely to have phantom limb pain and 2.8 (95% CI: 1.04 to 7.39) times more likely to require neuropathic pain medications. In the group of patients who underwent revision surgery, regular prosthesis use increased from 19% before the revision to 87% after it (p < 0.0001).


In our cohort, revision amputation to address surgical complications and persistently symptomatic residual limbs improved the patient’s overall acceptance of the prosthesis and led to outcomes equivalent to those following amputations that did not require revision.

Level of Evidence: 

Therapeutic Level IV. See Instructions for Authors for a complete description of levels of evidence.

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    Accreditation Statement
    These activities have been planned and implemented in accordance with the Essential Areas and policies of the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME) through the joint sponsorship of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons and The Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery, Inc. The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons is accredited by the ACCME to provide continuing medical education for physicians.
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