Outcomes Associated with the Internal Fixation of Long-Bone Fractures Proximal to Traumatic Amputations
Wade T. Gordon, MD, MC, USAF; Frederick P. O'Brien, MD, MC, USA; Joseph E. Strauss, DO, MC, USN; Romney C. Andersen, MD, MC, USA; Benjamin K. Potter, MD, MC, USA

Abstract

Background: Preservation of optimal residual limb length following a traumatic amputation can be challenging. The purpose of this study was to determine if acceptable results can be achieved by definitive fixation of a long-bone fracture proximal to a traumatic amputation.

Methods: We identified thirty-seven active-duty military service members who underwent internal fixation of a long-bone fracture proximal to a traumatic amputation. Functional status was assessed with the Tegner activity level scale and prosthesis use. Secondary outcome measures were the development of nonunion, infection, and heterotopic ossification.

Results: Twelve patients (32%) underwent amputation and fracture in the same osseous segment. Ten patients (27%) sustained bilateral traumatic amputations, and eight (22%) had a major fracture of the contralateral extremity. The median times to fracture fixation and amputation closure were twelve days and nineteen days, respectively, after the injury. The mean Tegner activity score was 3.32 (range, 1 to 6); patients with isolated extremity injuries had significantly higher Tegner scores than those with severe bilateral injuries (3.59 and 2.38, respectively; p = 0.04). Thirty-three patients (89%) developed an infection requiring surgical debridement. However, all fractures were treated until union occurred, and amputation level salvage was successful in all instances. Heterotopic ossification developed in twenty-eight patients (76%), with operative excision required in eleven patients (39%).

Conclusions: High complication rates, but acceptable final results, can be achieved with internal fixation of a fracture proximal to a traumatic amputation to preserve functional joint levels or salvage residual limb length.

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

Footnotes

  • Investigation performed at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, Bethesda, Maryland, and Washington, D.C., and the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, Bethesda, Maryland

  • Disclaimer: The opinions or assertions contained herein are the private views of the authors and are not to be construed as official or reflecting the views of the Department of Defense or United States government. The authors are employees of the U.S. government.

  • Disclosure: The authors did not receive any outside funding or grants in support of their research for or preparation of this work. Neither they nor a member of their immediate families received payments or other benefits or a commitment or agreement to provide such benefits from a commercial entity.


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