Background: Mangled extremities are one of the most difficult injuries for trauma surgeons to manage. We compare limb salvage rates for a limb-threatening lower extremity injuries managed at Level I vs Level II trauma centers (TCs). Study Design: We identified all adult patients with a limb-threatening injury who underwent primary amputation or limb salvage (LS) using the American College of Surgeons (ACS) Trauma Quality Improvement Program database at ACS Level I vs II TCs between 2007 and 2017. A limb-threatening injury was defined as an open tibial fracture with concurrent arterial injury (Gustilo type IIIc). Multivariable analysis and propensity score matching were performed to minimize confounding by indication. Results: There were 712 records for analysis; 391 (54.9%) LS performed and 321 (45.1%) underwent amputation. The rate of LS was statistically higher among patients treated at Level I TCs vs those treated at Level II TCs (47.4% vs 34.8%; p = 0.01). Patients with penetrating injuries (13% vs 9.5%; p = 0.046) and tibial/peroneal artery injury (72.9% vs 50.4%; p < 0.001), as opposed to popliteal artery injury (30.8% vs 58.8%; p < 0.001), were more likely to have LS. The risk-adjusted odds of LS was 3.13 times higher at Level I TCs vs Level II TCs (95% CI, 1.59 to 6.34; p = 0.001). Limb salvage rates were significantly higher at Level I TCs compared with Level II TCs (53.0% vs 34.8%; p = 0.004), even after propensity matching. Conclusions: In patients with a mangled extremity, limb salvage rates are 50% higher at Level I TCs compared with Level II TCs, independent of case mix and injury severity.
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