Quality of life and not health status improves after major amputation in the elderly critical limb ischemia patient

Chloé Peters, J. de Vries, Paul Lodder, Stijn Steunenberg, E.J. Veen, H.G.W. de Groot, Gwan H. Ho, L. van der Laan

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A patient-oriented appraisal of treatment has become extremely important, particularly in elderly patients with critical limb ischaemia (CLI). Quality of life (QoL) is an important patient-reported outcome in vascular surgery. Frequently, the physical domain of QoL questionnaires represents an ‘objective’ evaluation of performing activities, which is expected to be impaired after major limb amputation. However, an objective appraisal of physical function is an assessment of health status (HS) and not of QoL. Little is known about the subjective appraisal of physical health (QoL). The goal of this study was to evaluate, prospectively, QoL in relation to HS in elderly CLI patients undergoing major limb amputation.
Patients suffering from CLI aged 70 years or older were included in a prospective observational cohort study with a follow-up period of 1 year. Patients were divided according to having had an amputation or not. The World Health Organization Quality Of Life-BREF (WHOQOL-BREF) was used to asses QoL. The 12-Item Short Form Health Survey (SF-12) was used to measure HS. These self-reported questionnaires were completed five times during follow-up.ResultsTwo-hundred patients were included of whom 46 underwent a major limb amputation within one year. Amputees had a statistically significant improvement of their physical QoL after six months (14.0 vs. 9.0 (95% CI -7.84;-1.45),p = 0.005) and after a one-year follow-up (14.0 vs. 9.0 (95% CI -9.58;-1.46),p = 0.008). They did not however show any statistically significant difference in HS. For non-amputees, both physical QoL and HS improved. An instant statistically significant improvement of the physical QoL appeared 1 week after inclusion (12.0 vs. 10.9 (95% CI -1.57;-0.63),p<0.001). Similarly, statistically significant improvement in the physical HS first occurred at 1 week follow-up (29.0 vs. 28.9 (95% CI -5.78; −2.23),p = 0.003).
There is a clear difference between patients' functioning (HS) and the patients' appraisal of functioning (QoL). In elderly CLI patients, this study clearly suggests a discrepancy between the physical QoL (WHOQOL-BREF) and HS (SF-12) measurements in vascular amputees. This raises the question, which outcome measurement is the most relevant for elderly CLI patients. Individual treatment goals should be kept in mind when assessing the HS or QoL outcome of patients undergoing hospital care. With respect to shared decision making, distinctive and subjective QoL questionnaires, like the WHOQOL-BREF, provide a very important outcome measurement and should be used in future research.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)547-553
JournalEuropean Journal of Vascular and Endovascular Surgery
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • Amputation
  • Frail elderly
  • Health status
  • Peripheral arterial disease
  • Quality of life


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