Limb Amputations: A Nigerian Teaching Hospital Based Study
Background: The loss of a limb is a life changing event with huge socio-economic and psychological impact on both the individual and the family. The aim of this study was to evaluate the patient characteristics, indications and levels of amputations in our environment and to make suggestions on appropriate preventive measures.
Methodology: This was a retrospective study of all the patients who had limb amputations at a teaching hospital in the Eastern part of Nigeria over a five year period. The medical records of the patients were retrieved from their case files. Patients with incomplete data were excluded from the study. The data obtained were subjected to descriptive analysis and the results were presented with simple frequency tables, percentages and charts.
Results: Out of the 98 amputations performed within the study period, 25 had incomplete data and thus 73 cases were analyzed. The peak age incidence was in the 7th decade of life. Diabetic foot disease was by far the most common indication for amputation [81%], followed by trauma [10%]. Forty one patients [56%] had below knee amputations while 20 patients [27%] had above knee amputations. Thirty six percent of the patients received treatment from herbalists and traditional bone setters before presentation while the average length of hospital stay was 28 days.
Conclusion: Diabetic foot disease is the commonest indication for amputation in our study. Most of the patients were elderly and present late when limb salvage procedures are practically impossible. We advocate measures to ensure prevention and early detection of foot lesions in diabetics.
Key words: Extremity amputations, Indications, Levels of amputation, Preventive measures