Complex lower limb trauma and reconstructive surgery: understanding health service resource use

Eleanor S. Lumley, George Ramsay, Helen S. Wohlgemut, Jan O. Jansen*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Complex lower limb trauma is a challenging problem. Achieving optimal long-term outcomes requires multi-disciplinary input, while patients are in hospital, and after discharge. The aim of this study was to evaluate the long-term health services resource use of patients with such injuries, in the context of a publicly funded health system. Methods: This is a population-based retrospective cohort study. Data were obtained from the Information Services Division (ISD) Scotland. We included patients with isolated lower extremity injuries, sustained between 1997 and 2015, with follow-up to 2017. Cases were identified defined by ICD-10 and OPCS-4 procedural codes and divided into two groups, complex and simple injuries and analysed for their subsequent contacts with the health service. Results: There were 42,601 patients with isolated lower limb injuries. 2976 (7.0%) had suffered complex injuries. The in-hospital mortality of these patients was 1.9%. 538 (18.1%) of the patients who sustained complex injuries underwent reconstructive surgery. Just over half attended an orthopaedic outpatient clinic in the first year, and 31.7% attended a plastic surgery clinic. Very few patients attended pain management clinics, or other clinics that might provide pain services. Conclusions: Only a small proportion of patients who undergo reconstructive surgery are followed up by specialist services. The reasons for such low follow-up rates are not obvious. Our findings raise the question of whether the health service in Scotland has sufficient resources to optimise functional outcome in this patient group. Level of evidence: Level III, risk / prognostic study

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)679-686
Number of pages8
JournalEuropean Journal of Plastic Surgery
Early online date25 Feb 2021
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2021
EventPlastic Surgery Audit Meeting - Glasgow Royal Infirmary, Glasgow, United Kingdom
Duration: 20 Aug 2019 → …


  • Lower limb reconstruction
  • Lower limb trauma


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