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Postoperative dressing and management strategies for transtibial amputations: a critical review.

Smith DG, McFarland LV, Sangeorzan BJ, Reiber GE, Czerniecki JM. Postoperative dressing and management strategies for transtibial amputations: a critical review. Journal of rehabilitation research and development. 2003 May 1; 40(3):213-24.

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Postamputation management is an important determinant of recovery from amputation. However, consensus on the most effective postoperative management strategies for individuals undergoing transtibial amputation (TTA) is lacking. Dressings can include simple soft gauze dressings, thigh-high rigid cast dressings, shorter removable rigid dressings, and prefabricated pneumatic dressings. Postoperative prosthetic attachments can be added to all but simple soft dressings. These dressings address the need to cleanly cover a fresh surgical wound, but not all postoperative dressings are designed to facilitate the strategic goals of preventing knee contractures, reducing edema, protecting from external trauma, or facilitating early weight bearing. The type of dressing and management strategy often overlap and are certainly interrelated. Current protocols and decisions are based on local practice, skill, and intuition. The current available literature is challenging, and difficulties include variations in healing potential, in comorbidity, in surgical-level selection, in techniques and skill, in experience with postoperative strategies, and with poorly defined outcome criteria. This paper reviews the published literature and compares measures of safety, efficacy, and clinical outcomes of the various techniques. Analysis of 10 controlled studies supported only 4 of the 14 claims cited in uncontrolled, descriptive studies.

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