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J Orthop Trauma. 2000 Sep-Oct;14(7):455-66.

Characterization of patients with high-energy lower extremity trauma.

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Johns Hopkins School of Public Health, Baltimore, Maryland 21205, USA.



(a) to report the demographic, socioeconomic, behavioral, social, and vocational characteristics of patients enrolled in a study to examine outcomes after high-energy lower extremity trauma (HELET) and to compare them with the general population; (b) to determine whether characteristics of patients undergoing limb salvage versus amputation after HELET are significantly different from each other.


A prospective study of 601 patients admitted with high-energy lower extremity trauma to eight Level I trauma centers.


Patients were evaluated during the initial hospitalization. They are being followed up for 24 months postinjury. Study patients are compared with the general population by using census information, population survey data, and published norms. Characteristics of patients undergoing limb salvage versus amputation are also compared.


Most patients were male (77 percent), white (72 percent), and between the ages of twenty and forty-five years (71 percent). Seventy percent graduated from high school (compared with 86 percent nationally) (p < 0.05). One fourth lived in households with incomes below the federal poverty line, compared with 16 percent nationally (p < 0.05). The percentage with no health insurance (38 percent) was also higher than in the general population (20 percent) (p < .05). The percentage of heavy drinkers was over two times higher than reported nationally (p < 0.01). Study patients were slightly more neurotic and extroverted and less open to new experiences. When patient characteristics were compared for those undergoing amputation versus limb salvage, no significant differences were found among any of the variables (p > 0.05).


In conclusion, LEAP patients differ in important ways from the general population. However, the decision to amputate verus reconstruct does not appear to be significantly influenced by patient characteristics.

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