Multidisciplinary extremity preservation program improves quality of life for patients with advanced limb threat



      The need for multidisciplinary care of patients with advanced limb threat is well established. We examined patient reported outcomes and health-related quality of life (HR-QoL) for those who completed a multidisciplinary extremity preservation program (EPP) at our institution.


      Patients with advanced limb threat, who had previously failed standard management at a tertiary-care center, were referred to EPP for evaluation by a multidisciplinary panel of vascular, plastic, orthopedic and podiatric surgeons, along with infectious disease, prosthetics, orthotics, imaging, palliative care, social work and wound nursing specialists. HR-QoL was quantified before and after EPP participation with the RAND-36 questionnaire. The validated RAND-36 assesses physical function, role limitations caused by physical and emotional health problems, social functioning, emotional well-being, energy, pain and general health perceptions.


      From 2018 to 2020, 185 patients were referred to EPP. After review by the multidisciplinary panel, 120 were accepted into the program, 63 of whom completed their course of care; 9 were one-time consultations. The median number of EPP in-person care visits was 23 (13-54) per participant; 87.3% of patients received one or more surgical procedure, including operative debridement (73%), revascularization (44%), soft tissue reconstruction or transplantation (46%), as well as hyperbaric oxygen therapy (11%) during their course of treatment.
      85.7% of patients achieved complete wound healing, 41.5% occurring within 6 months. Ultimately, 14.3% required a major amputation. Graduates noted improvement in all categories of the HR-QoL upon completion, including those undergoing major amputation. On adjusted multivariate regression analysis, patients with immunocompromised status were more likely to show greater improvement in their social function (OR: 10.1; P<0.044) and emotional role limitation (OR:8.1; P=0.042), while patients with larger wound volume at presentation were more likely to have greater improvement in their general health (OR: 1.1; P<0.049). Conversely, patients with a smoking history had less improvement in energy level (OR:0.4; P=0.044) and patients with dialysis-dependence had less improvement in social function (OR:0.2; P=0.034).


      Coordinated, multidisciplinary extremity preservation program improves HR-QoL of patients with complex limb threat, including those who are immunocompromised with impaired social function and emotional role limitations. Further study is warranted to better characterize the generalizability of this approach, including considerations of cost-effectiveness, wound recidivism, and limiting the number of in-person visits required to achieve complete healing.
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