Estimating the Prevalence of Limb Loss in the United States: 2005 to 2050

Kathryn Ziegler-Graham, Ellen J. MacKenzie, Patti L. Ephraim, Thomas G. Travison, Ron Brookmeyer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1264 Scopus citations


Ziegler-Graham K, MacKenzie EJ, Ephraim PL, Travison TG, Brookmeyer R. Estimating the prevalence of limb loss in the United States: 2005 to 2050. Objective: To estimate the current prevalence of limb loss in the United States and project the future prevalence to the year 2050. Design: Estimates were constructed using age-, sex-, and race-specific incidence rates for amputation combined with age-, sex-, and race-specific assumptions about mortality. Incidence rates were derived from the 1988 to 1999 Nationwide Inpatient Sample of the Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project, corrected for the likelihood of reamputation among those undergoing amputation for vascular disease. Incidence rates were assumed to remain constant over time and applied to historic mortality and population data along with the best available estimates of relative risk, future mortality, and future population projections. To investigate the sensitivity of our projections to increasing or decreasing incidence, we developed alternative sets of estimates of limb loss related to dysvascular conditions based on assumptions of a 10% or 25% increase or decrease in incidence of amputations for these conditions. Setting: Community, nonfederal, short-term hospitals in the United States. Participants: Persons who were discharged from a hospital with a procedure code for upper-limb or lower-limb amputation or diagnosis code of traumatic amputation. Interventions: Not applicable. Main Outcome Measures: Prevalence of limb loss by age, sex, race, etiology, and level in 2005 and projections to the year 2050. Results: In the year 2005, 1.6 million persons were living with the loss of a limb. Of these subjects, 42% were nonwhite and 38% had an amputation secondary to dysvascular disease with a comorbid diagnosis of diabetes mellitus. It is projected that the number of people living with the loss of a limb will more than double by the year 2050 to 3.6 million. If incidence rates secondary to dysvascular disease can be reduced by 10%, this number would be lowered by 225,000. Conclusions: One in 190 Americans is currently living with the loss of a limb. Unchecked, this number may double by the year 2050.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)422-429
Number of pages8
JournalArchives of physical medicine and rehabilitation
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2008


  • Amputation
  • Diabetes mellitus
  • Peripheral vascular diseases
  • Prevalence
  • Rehabilitation
  • Wounds and injuries

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation
  • Rehabilitation


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