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Summary

Introduction:  The quality improvement framework for major amputation was developed with the aim of improving outcomes and reducing the perioperartive mortality to less than 5% by 2015. The aim of the study was to assess our compliance with the framework guidelines and look for the reasons for non-compliance.

Method:  All major amputations performed between 2008 and 2010 were included. The following data were collected: presence of infection ± tissue loss, status of arterial supply, revascularisation attempts, time to surgery, type of amputation, morbidity and mortality.

Results:  A total of 81 patients were included (42 BKAs, 39 AKAs). Ninety percentage had formal preoperative arterial investigations and 84% had an attempted revascularisation procedure. Patients who were transferred late from non-vascular units (n = 12) had a 30-day mortality of 50% whereas patients who presented directly to our unit had a 30-day mortality of 7.2%. The number of amputations has decreased over the last 3 years from 34 to 21 per year, coinciding with the doubling of crural revascularisation procedures performed (from 60 to 120 per year). Ten patients underwent a revision from BKA to AKA because of an inadequate profunda femoris artery (PFA), whereas all those with a healed BKA stump either had a good PFA or a named crural vessel.

Conclusion:  The overall number of amputations is decreasing from year to year. By doubling our crural revascularisation procedures we are saving more limbs. Thirty-day mortality is higher than expected, particularly in patients who present late. Expeditious referral may potentially improve the mortality rate among this group of patients.