Predictors of lower extremity fracture-related amputation in persons with traumatic spinal cord injury: a case–control study

Rachel E. Elam, Cara E. Ray, Scott Miskevics, Frances M. Weaver, Beverly Gonzalez, William Obremskey, Laura D. Carbone

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Study design: This is a retrospective case–control study. Objectives: To identify predictors of lower extremity (LE) long bone fracture-related amputation in persons with traumatic spinal cord injury (tSCI). Setting: US Veterans Health Administration facilities (2005–2015). Methods: Fracture-amputation sets in Veterans with tSCI were considered for inclusion if medical coding indicated a LE amputation within 365 days following an incident LE fracture. The authors adjudicated each fracture-amputation set by electronic health record review. Controls with incident LE fracture and no subsequent amputation were matched 1:1 with fracture-amputation sets on site and date of fracture (±30 days). Multivariable conditional logistic regression determined odds ratios (OR) and 95% confidence intervals (CI) for potential predictors (motor-complete injury; diabetes mellitus (DM); peripheral vascular disease (PVD); smoking; primary (within 30 days) nonsurgical fracture management; pressure injury and/or infection), controlling for age and race. Results: Forty fracture-amputation sets from 37 Veterans with LE amputations and 40 unique controls were identified. DM (OR = 26; 95% CI, 1.7–382), PVD (OR = 30; 95% CI, 2.5–371), and primary nonsurgical management (OR = 40; 95% CI, 1.5–1,116) were independent predictors of LE fracture-related amputation. Conclusions: Early and aggressive strategies to prevent DM and PVD in tSCI are needed, as these comorbidities are associated with increased odds of LE fracture-related amputation. Nonsurgical fracture management increased the odds of LE amputation by at least 50%. Further large, prospective studies of fracture management in tSCI are needed to confirm our findings. Physicians and patients should consider the potential increased risk of amputation associated with non-operative management of LE fractures in shared decision making.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)260-268
Number of pages9
JournalSpinal Cord
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2023

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Rehabilitation
  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology


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