Major lower limb amputation remains a common treatment for patients with peripheral vascular disease (PVD) in whom other measures have failed. It has been associated with high morbidity and mortality, including risks from venous thromboembolism (VTE).
A two-year retrospective cohort study was conducted involving 79 patients who underwent major lower limb amputation (below- or above-knee amputation) between January 2014 and December 2015 in a single tertiary referral centre. Amputation procedures were performed for reasons relating to complications of PVD and/or diabetes mellitus. Patients were followed-up to investigate all-cause mortality rates and VTE events using the Northern Ireland Electronic Care Record database (mean follow-up time 17 months).
Of the 79 patients, there were 52 male and 27 female. Mean age at time of surgery was 72 years (range 34-99 years). Forty-six patients (58%) suffered from diabetes mellitus, 29 (35%) heart failure, 31 (39%) chronic kidney disease (CKD) and 10 (13%) chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Twenty patients (25%) were on anticoagulant therapy, and 53 (67%) were on antiplatelet therapy.
Thirty-five patients (44%) died during follow-up; mean age at death was 74 years. No statistically significant association was found between mortality rate and the level of amputation (p=0.3702), gender (p=0.3507), or comorbid diabetic mellitus (p=0.1127), heart failure (p=0.1028), CKD (p=0.0643) or COPD (p=0.4987).
Two patients experienced radiologically-confirmed non-fatal pulmonary emboli and two patients developed radiologically-confirmed deep vein thrombosis.