Background: The creation of a bone bridge between the residual tibia and fibula is a controversial surgical technique used in the performance of transtibial amputation.
Methods: Twenty consecutive patients who underwent a unilateral transtibial amputation, as a consequence of traumatic injury, had distal tibiofibular bone-bridging performed by a single surgeon. Eight completed the Prosthesis Evaluation Questionnaire (PEQ), a validated outcomes instrument designed to measure patient self-reported health-related quality of life after a lower-extremity amputation. Their responses were compared with those of a previously reported control group of nondiabetic patients who had undergone transtibial amputation with the use of a traditional technique and with those of a previously reported consecutive group of Brazilian patients, including twelve who were diabetic, who had undergone a similar bone-bridge procedure.
Results: The scores in the American bone-bridge group were similar to those in the control group and not as good as those in the Brazilian bone-bridge group. The American bone-bridge and control groups scored lower in the Social Burden, Ambulation, Frustration, Sounds, Utility, and Well-Being domains of the PEQ.
Conclusions: While many experts in the care of amputees believe that the distal tibiofibular bone-bridge technique improves patient functional outcomes, our small group of patients treated with this procedure did not appear to have better outcomes than a group of patients treated successfully with a standard surgical technique. More information is needed before the bone-bridge technique can be recommended as an important component of standard transtibial amputation surgery.
Level of Evidence: Therapeutic Level III. See Instructions to Authors for a complete description of levels of evidence.