Factors affecting healing and survival after finger amputations in patients with digital artery occlusive disease

Gregory J. Landry, Ashley McClary, Timothy K. Liem, Erica L. Mitchell, Amir F. Azarbal, Gregory L. Moneta

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Background: Finger amputations are typically performed as distal as possible to preserve maximum finger length. Failure of primary amputation leads to additional procedures, which could potentially be avoided if a more proximal amputation was initially performed. The effect of single versus multiple procedures on morbidity and mortality is not known. We evaluated factors that predicted primary healing and the effects of secondary procedures on survival. Methods: Patients undergoing finger amputations from 1995 to 2011 were evaluated for survival with uni- and multivariate analysis of demographic data and preoperative vascular laboratory studies to assess factors influencing primary healing. Results: Seventy-six patients underwent 175 finger amputations (range 1 to 6 fingers per patient). Forty-one percent had diabetes, 33% had nonatherosclerotic digital artery disease, and 29% were on dialysis. Sex distribution was equal. Primary healing occurred in 78.9%, with the remainder requiring revisions. By logistic regression analysis, nonatherosclerotic digital artery disease was associated with failure of primary healing (odds ratio = 7.5; 95% confidence interval, 1.03 to 54; P =.047). Digital photoplethysmography did not predict primary healing. The overall healing of primary and secondary finger amputations was 96.0%. The mean survival after the initial finger amputation was 34.3 months and did not differ between patients undergoing single (35.6 months) versus multiple procedures (33.6 months). Dialysis dependence was associated with decreased survival (hazard ratio = 2.9; 95% confidence interval, 1.13 to 7.25; P =.026). Conclusions: Failure of primary healing is associated with the presence of nonatherosclerotic digital artery disease and is not predicted by digital photoplethysmographic studies. Dialysis dependence is associated with decreased survival in patients with finger amputations, but failure of primary healing does not adversely affect survival. A strategy of aggressive preservation of finger length is appropriate for most patients.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)566-570
Number of pages5
JournalAmerican journal of surgery
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2013


  • Amputation
  • Chronic kidney disease
  • Connective tissue disease
  • Diabetes mellitus
  • Finger
  • Scleroderma

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery


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