Transmetatarsal amputations: Outcomes of primary healing versus secondary healing


Advocate Christ Medical Center


Background: Transmetatarsal amputations are limb salvage surgical procedures that preserve limb length and functional ankle joints. Indications for transmetatarsal amputations include forefoot trauma, infection, and ischemia. Prior research demonstrates patients who undergo transmetatarsal amputations have a lower 2-year mortality rate compared to those who undergo more proximal amputations. The aim of this study was to determine whether primary closure of a transmetatarsal amputation is a superior treatment compared to secondary healing of a transmetatarsal amputation for forefoot abnormality of infection, gangrene, or chronic ulceration.

Methods: A retrospective chart review was performed on patients aged 18 years or older requiring a transmetatarsal amputation because of forefoot abnormality between September of 2011 and December of 2019. Foot and ankle surgeons performed transmetatarsal amputations. Outcome variables measured included healing time of transmetatarsal amputation site, recurrent infection, recurrent gangrene, and the need for revision surgery or higher level amputations.

Results: Of the original 112 patients, 76 met the inclusion criteria; 47 of these had primary closure of transmetatarsal amputation and 29 of these had an open transmetatarsal amputation performed. Primarily closed transmetatarsal amputations resulted in a significantly greater overall healing rate of 78.8% (37 of 47) compared to open transmetatarsal amputations, with a healing rate of 37.9% (11 of 29) (P < .01). Closed transmetatarsal amputations were statistically significantly less likely than open transmetatarsal amputations to have recurrent gangrene, require revision pedal operations, or progress to higher level amputations.

Conclusions: Our research demonstrated that primary closure of transmetatarsal amputations is a superior treatment compared with secondary healing of transmetatarsal amputations in specific cases of infection, dry gangrene, or chronically nonhealing ulcerations.

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