Problems of amputation surgery in a developing country.

We studied prospectively 87 patients who underwent extremity amputation in the National Orthopaedic Hospital in Lagos in 1995-1996. Trauma from road traffic accident was the most common indication (34/87) with peripheral vascular disease being the least encountered (2/87). Traditional bonesetters’ gangrene accounted for 9/87 cases in circumstances that were largely avoidable. Our study revealed that amputation is still being performed as a life-saving procedure, as 44/87 patients presented with gangrene of a limb. The nonavailability of special investigations such as Doppler ultrasound, arteriography, and CT scan was responsible for a delay in definitive treatment in 28 cases. Poor prosthetic services and the absence of a well-coordinated amputee clinic were responsible for some of the unsatisfactory results. We believe that the availability of specialized diagnostic tools and facilities for microvascular surgery, together with a multidisciplinary approach to the management of the amputee, would considerably change the current gloomy picture of amputation in developing countries such as Nigeria.