Background: Need for amputation is a potential complication when limb salvage is attempted. The present study aimed to develop a risk assessment tool to predict the risk of future amputation when counseling patients about their reconstructive options. Methods: All patients undergoing a free flap lower extremity soft tissue reconstruction by the senior author from 2005 to 2019 were retrospectively identified. Patient's demographics, comorbidities, and technical aspects of the operation were extracted. Logistic regressions were used to create a predictive scoring system for future amputation. Results: A total of 277 patients were identified. Of these patients, two-thirds (183) were used to derive the scoring system and one-third (94) were used to validate the score. In total, 25 of 183 patients (14%) underwent an amputation. A stepwise forward logistic regression identified age > 55 years, smoking, acute wound, aggressive fluid resuscitation intra-operatively, inability to use a superficial vein for drainage, and inability to use the posterior tibialis artery for anastomosis as independent predictors of need for future amputations. The beta co-efficients were used to create the scoring system, and the patients were categorized into mild, moderate, and severe risk based on their cumulative score. The validity of the scoring system was verified by using the one-third validation cohort. Conclusions: In patients undergoing free flap reconstruction of the lower extremity, the need for future amputation is 14%. The use of a scoring system can guide the surgeon's and patient's decision regarding limb salvage.
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