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The Journal of Cardiovascular Surgery 2012 February;53(1):53-9


language: English

Primary amputation: is there still a place for it?

Setacci F., Sirignano P., De Donato G., Galzerano G., Cappelli A., Palasciano G., Setacci C.

Department of Surgery, Vascular and Endovascular Surgery Unit, University of Siena, Siena, Italy


Diabetic foot (DF) continues to present a significant challenge to the vascular surgeon. Despite great advances in the treatment of DF, including open revascularization and endovascular techniques, significant numbers of amputations are still performed. The effect of aggressive revascularization on ultimate limb salvage rates continues to be debated. In the US the amputation rate has increased from 19 to 30 per 100000 persons years over the last two decades primarily due to an increase in diabetes and advancing age. Despite advances in cardiovascular treatment, in patients over 85 year of age an amputation rate of 140 per 100000 persons/year has been reported with a primary amputation (PA) still carrying an excessively high mortality rate of 13-17%. Amputation has been historically regarded as a life saving therapeutic measure. At the time the advances of surgical techniques in revascularization, diagnostic modalities and effectiveness in antimicrobial agents have unintentionally designated amputation to be the last treatment option. Nowadays we have a variety of therapeutic options to correct, modify, or circumvent the obstructive vascular pathology, such as angioplasty, atherectomy, stenting, stent graft and the traditional open surgical approach using endarterectomy, patch angioplasty, or bypass revascularization and even sympathectomy to enhance cutaneous perfusion to the toes. However it is understandable that many older patients who have received multiple limb preservation procedures have spent most of the remaining days of their lives in and out of the hospital or in a long-term care facility where high technical and sophisticated wound care techniques can be provided.

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