Syme amputation for the treatment of fibular deficiency. An evaluation of long-term physical and psychological functional status

John G. Birch, Stewart J. Walsh, John M. Small, Anne Morton, Karl D. Koch, Cindi Smith, Donald Cummings, Renee Buchanan

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41 Scopus citations


Background: Syme amputation is an accepted treatment for fibular deficiency. With improvement in limb-lengthening procedures, there has been renewed interest in limb salvage for these patients. The purpose of the present study was to evaluate the physical and psychological results in ten young adults who had had a Syme amputation for the treatment of fibular deficiency when they were children. Methods: The evaluation consisted of physical examination, prosthetic assessment, psychological testing, and physical performance testing of knee extension and flexion with use of a Cybex-II dynamometer. Results: Five patients reported no difficulty with the involved limb since the Syme amputation, four had had minor secondary procedures (three medial distal femoral or proximal tibial hemiepiphyseodeses, one reconstruction with an autologous patellar ligamenl graft, one revision of the stump, and one tibial osteotomy) on the affected extremity, and one had mild instability of the knee that had been treated nonoperatively. All ten patients had an appropriate, functional Syme prosthesis, and none reported difficulty with walking or running. On psychological testing, this group generally did not differ from the norm with regard to occupational satisfaction, personal growth, relationships with family members and peers, and recreational behavior. The patients' overall assessment of self-reported quality of life and self-esteem was similar to that of normative adult samples. In general, these patients were leading active, productive lives and had always done so. Conclusions: On the basis of the results of this study, we concluded that young adults who have had a Syme amputation apparently are not limited in their ability to pursue and achieve personal goals. In order to justify recommending limb salvage rather than early Syme amputation for the treatment of fibular deficiency, the results of multistaged lengthening and reconstruction would have to match the functional, psychological, and cost-effective results for the patients whom we studied, who had had a Syme amputation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1511-1518
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Bone and Joint Surgery - Series A
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 1 1999

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


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