Cryoamputation or physiologic amputation has been used at our institution for more than 30 years. From 1971 through 1989, 891 major lower extremity amputations were performed in 750 patients. With the use of dry ice or mechanical refrigeration, 320 (36%) physiologic amputations were performed in 292 patients. After physiologic amputation, the initially elevated white blood cell count and temperature decreased. Complications of physiologic amputation were unusual; 3% of patients developed minor freezing above the tourniquet, which did not alter the amputation level, while 1% had purulence at the level of surgical amputation that required delayed stump closure. The overall operative mortality rate in patients who underwent physiologic amputation was 11%, which was equivalent to the rate in patients undergoing primary amputation. Revision was required in 9% of amputations after preliminary physiologic amputation compared with 17% of primary amputations. Physiologic amputation is a simple technique, controls local infection, avoids emergency surgery, and allows for medical stabilization prior to surgery. Amputation revision after physiologic amputation is required less often than after primary amputation, while the mortality rate is comparable to that of patients undergoing primary amputation.
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