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01.06.2014 | Original Article | Ausgabe 3/2014

European Journal of Trauma and Emergency Surgery 3/2014

Current issues with lower extremity amputations in a country at war: experience from the National Military Hospital of Kabul

European Journal of Trauma and Emergency Surgery > Ausgabe 3/2014
L. Mathieu, A. Marty, A. Ramaki, A. Najib, W. Ahmadzai, D. J. Fugazzotto, S. Rigal, N. Shirzai



Management practices associated with war-related amputations in countries at war may be different from the recommendations of occidental Health Force Services due to the high numbers of wounded persons to treat in precarious conditions. This observational retrospective study documents the current management of local lower extremity amputees in Afghanistan. Surgical practices, with or without delayed primary closure (DPC), and prosthetic rehabilitation issues are analyzed.


This retrospective study was conducted in the National Military Hospital (NMH) of Kabul from May 2011 to November 2011. Fifty-four Afghan patients who underwent a lower extremity combat-related amputation were included. Ten of them sustained a bilateral amputation.


Injuries were caused by improvised explosive devices (IEDs) or mines in 48 cases, bullets in three cases, and exploding shell fragments in three cases. Of the 64 amputations studied, 46 were open length preserving amputations and primary closure (PC) was applied in 18 cases. Patients were reviewed with a mean follow-up of 5.4 months (range 1–28 months). In the DPC group, secondary closure was performed with a mean time of 18.7 days (range 4–45 days) from injury. The proportion of infectious complications seemed to be higher in the PC group (5/18) than in the DPC group (3/46), but it was only a statistical trend (p = 0.1). Forty-three patients were not prosthetic fitted at the last follow-up.


This study supports the surgical strategy of a two-stage procedure for lower limb amputations in countries at war, but underlines the problems of late secondary closure and prosthetic fitting related to decreased sanitary conditions.

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