Functional outcome of bilateral limb threatening: Lower extremity injuries at two years postinjury

Joel J. Smith, Julie Agel, Mark F. Swiontkowski, Renan Castillo, Ellen MacKenzie, James F. Kellam, Michael J. Bosse, Andrew R. Burgess, Lawrence X. Webb, Roy W. Sanders, Alan L. Jones, Mark P. McAndrew, Brendan M. Patterson, Melissa L. McCarthy, Jennifer Avery, Denise Bailey, Wendall Bryan, Debbie Bullard, Carla Carpenter, Elizabeth ChaparroKate Corbin, Denise Darnell, Stephanie Dickason, Thomas DiPasquale, Betty Harkin, Michael Harrington, Dolfi Herscovici, Amy Holdren, Linda Howard, Sarah Hutchings, Marie Johnson, Melissa Jurewicz, Donna Lampke, Karen Lee, Marianne Mars, Maxine MendozaWelch, J. Wayne Meredith, Nan Morris, Karen Murdock, Andrew Pollak, Par Radey, Sandy Shelton, Sherry Simpson, Steven Sims, Douglas Smith, Adam Star, Celia Wiegman, John Wilber, Stephanie Williams, Philip Wolinsky, Mary Woodman, Michele Zimmerman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


Objectives: To describe the functional outcome of bilateral limb-threatening injuries at 2 years postinjury and to evaluate whether a different decision-making process should be used for these patients as opposed to patients with unilateral limb-threatening injury. Design/Setting/Patients: This study population of 32 patients is a subset of 601 patients from a study of 8 level I trauma centers. The patients were prospectively followed through 24 months. Main Outcome Measurements: The principle outcome measure at 2 years was the Sickness Impact Profile, designed to measure physical and psychosocial dimensions. Results: The overall Sickness Impact Profile scores at 2 years demonstrate that all 3 bilateral injury groups (bilateral salvage [n = 14], unilateral salvage/amputation [n = 8], and bilateral amputation [n = 10]) were severely disabled (Sickness Impact Profile > 10). The bilateral salvage group had the most dramatic improvement over the 24 months. The 2-year physical subscale Sickness Impact Profile data showed a similar trend. At the 2-year assessment, the bilateral amputation group was recording greater disability (Sickness Impact Profile = 16.3) compared to the bilateral salvage and unilateral amputation/salvage groups (Sickness Impact Profile = 8.5 and 12.6, respectively). The overall Psychosocial Dimension, which started off worst in the bilateral salvage group, ended up similar in all 3 groups (8 to 9). The percent of patients who returned to work was 66.7% in the unilateral salvage /amputation group versus 21.4 and 16% in the bilateral salvage and amputation groups, respectively. Conclusions: The results indicate that treatment judgments should be based upon the results derived from the analysis of the larger unilateral limb cohort data. Patients with severe, bilateral lower extremity injuries should be counseled that regardless of treatment combinations, the function of each limb is similar at 24 months. The unilateral amputation/salvage group had a greater probability of going back to work. This is the major identifiable benefit to under-going salvage versus amputation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)249-253
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of orthopaedic trauma
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2005


  • Bilateral injury
  • Lower extremity trauma
  • Sickness impact profile

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


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