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Incidence and Characterization of Major Upper-Extremity Amputations in the National Trauma Data Bank

Inkellis, Elizabeth, MD1; Low, Eric, Edison, MD, MPH2; Langhammer, Christopher, MD, PhD1; Morshed, Saam, MD, PhD1,3,a

doi: 10.2106/JBJS.OA.17.00038
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Background: There are few recent data examining the epidemiology of severe upper-extremity trauma in non-military patients. We used the National Trauma Data Bank (NTDB) to investigate the epidemiology and descriptive characteristics of upper-extremity amputations in U.S. trauma centers.

Methods: We queried the 2009 to 2012 NTDB research datasets for patients undergoing major upper-extremity amputation and extracted characteristics of the patient population, injury distribution, and treating facilities. In addition, multivariable regression models were fit to identify correlates of reoperation, major in-hospital complications, duration of hospitalization, and in-hospital mortality.

Results: A total of 1,386 patients underwent a major upper-extremity amputation secondary to a trauma-related upper-extremity injury, representing 46 per 100,000 NTDB trauma admissions from 2009 to 2012. The most frequent definitive procedures performed were amputations through the humerus (35%), forearm (30%), and hand (14%). The average duration of hospitalization for all amputees was 17 days. Thirty-one percent of patients underwent at least 1 reoperation. The rate of reoperation was significantly higher at university-associated hospitals compared with nonteaching or community hospitals (p < 0.0001). Patients who had at least 1 reoperation stayed in the hospital approximately 7 days longer than patients who did not undergo reoperation. The Injury Severity Score, hospital teaching status, concomitant neurovascular injury, and occurrence of a complication were significantly associated with reoperation.

Conclusions: The present study provides an updated report on the epidemiology and characteristics of trauma-related major upper-extremity amputation in the U.S. civilian population. Additional work is necessary to assess the long-term outcomes following attempted upper-extremity salvage. The population-level data provided by the present study may help to inform the design and implementation of future studies on the optimum treatment for this survivable but life-altering injury.

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1Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, University of California, San Francisco, San Francisco, California

2University of California, San Francisco School of Medicine, San Francisco, California

3Orthopaedic Trauma Institute, San Francisco, California

E-mail address for S. Morshed:

Investigation performed at the University of California, San Francisco, San Francisco, California

Disclosure: This work was funded partially by a resident research grant from the Orthopaedic Research and Education Fund ( The Disclosure of Potential Conflicts of Interest forms are provided with the online version of the article (

© 2018 The Authors. Published by Wolters Kluwer Health, Inc. on behalf of The Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery, Incorporated.