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Dysvascular partial foot amputation (PFA) is a common sequel to advanced peripheral vascular disease. Helping inform difficult discussions between patients and practitioners about the level of PFA, or the decision to have a transtibial amputation (TTA) as an alternative, requires an understanding of the current research evidence on a wide range of topics including wound healing, reamputation, quality of life, mobility, functional ability, participation, pain and psychosocial outcomes, and mortality. The aim of this review was to describe a comprehensive range of outcomes of dysvascular PFA and compare these between levels of PFA and TTA.
The review protocol was registered in PROSPERO (CRD42015029186). A systematic search of the literature was conducted using MEDLINE, EMBASE, psychINFO, AMED, CINAHL, ProQuest Nursing and Allied Health, and Web of Science. These databases were searched using MeSH terms and keywords relating to different amputation levels and outcomes of interest. Peer reviewed studies of original research—irrespective of the study design—were included if published in English between 1 January 2000, and 31 December 2015, and included discrete cohort(s) with dysvascular PFA or PFA and TTA. Outcomes of interest were rate of wound healing and complications, rate of ipsilateral reamputation, quality of life, functional ability, mobility, pain (i.e., residual limb or phantom pain), psychosocial outcomes (i.e., depression, anxiety, body image and self-esteem), participation, and mortality rate. Included studies were independently appraised by two reviewers. The McMaster Critical Review Forms were used to assess methodological quality and identify sources of bias. Data were extracted based on the Cochrane Consumers and Communication Review Group’s data extraction template by a primary reviewer and checked for accuracy and clarity by a second reviewer. Findings are reported as narrative summaries given the heterogeneity of the literature, except for mortality and ipsilateral reamputation where data allowed for proportional meta-analyses.
Twenty-nine unique articles were included in the review, acknowledging that some studies reported multiple outcomes. Eighteen studies reported all-cause proportionate mortality. A smaller number of studies reported outcomes related to functional ability (two), mobility (four), quality of life (three), ipsilateral reamputation (six) as well as wound healing and complications (four). No studies related to pain, participation or psychosocial outcomes met the inclusion criteria. Subjects were typically older and male and had diabetes among other comorbidities. More detailed information about the cohorts such as race or sociodemographic factors were reported in an ad hoc manner. Common sources of bias included contamination, co-intervention, or lack of operational definition for some outcomes (e.g., wound healing) as illustrative examples.
Aside from mortality, there was limited evidence regarding outcomes of dysvascular PFA, particularly how outcomes differ between levels of PFA and TTA. Acknowledging that there is considerable uncertainty given the small body of literature on many topics where the risk of bias is high, the available evidence suggests that a large proportion of people with PFA experience delayed wound healing and ipsilateral reamputation. People with TTA have increased risk of mortality compared to those with PFA, which may reflect that those considered suitable candidates for TTA have more advanced systemic disease that also increases the risk of dying. Mobility and quality of life may be similar in people with PFA and TTA.