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Eur J Vasc Surg. 1992 May;6(3):321-6.

The fate of bilateral lower limb amputees in end-stage vascular disease.

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  • 1Department of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery, University of Bern, Inselspital, Switzerland.


Sixty-six patients with end-stage peripheral vascular disease who had undergone bilateral major amputation of the lower extremities in our institution during the 10-year period January 1980-December 1989 were reviewed. There were 46 males and 20 females with an age range from 34 to 91 years (mean 67.7 years). A 98.5% follow-up was achieved. Of these patients 25% underwent their second amputation in the first, 50% within the second and 75% within the third postoperative year, notwithstanding the fact that prior attempts at revascularisation had been performed in 62% of all patients. The 30-day hospital mortality was 4.5%. The initial level of amputation was metatarsal in 14.4%, below knee in 66.6%, through knee in 9.9% and above knee in 9.1%. Out of a total of 132 stumps 89 healed by primary intention. Following secondary revisions and amputations the final level of amputation was metatarsal in 7%, below knee in 49%, through knee in 14% and above knee in 30%. Survival rates were 62% after 2 years, 31% after 5 years, and 14% after 8 years. By this time all diabetics had died, while 33% of non-diabetics were still alive (p greater than 0.02). Age, sex and amputation level had no bearing upon survival rate. Forty-three patients (65.1%) were ambulatory after their first amputation, but following contralateral amputation barely more than half (23 patients) were able to walk. In the presence of bilateral stage IV disease it is highly important to rehabilitate the patient immediately following unilateral amputation before considering amputation of the contralateral limb, otherwise the patient will not become ambulatory.

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