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Understanding Limb Loss in the United States

Tuesday, November 27, 2012
Facts & Stats

  • Currently, there are an estimated 1.9 million people living with limb loss in the United States1.
  • It is estimated that as many as 185,000 amputation procedures are performed in the U.S. each year2.
  • The leading causes of limb loss are complications related to diabetes and vascular disease, which represent as much as 80% of the annual incidence of amputation in the United States3.
  • From 2000 – 2010, more than 1,600 persons had an amputation as a result of active duty military service in Operation Enduring Freedom, Operation Iraqi Freedom, and other global conflicts4.
  • A recent report from the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Center estimates that an additional 248 members of the U.S. military suffered a major amputation in 2011, including 110 who incurred injuries resulting in bilateral lower extremity amputation – the most of any year since 20005.
  • According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 68,000 amputation procedures due to diabetes-related complications were performed in the United States in 20096.
  • The CDC estimates that the number of amputation procedures due to diabetes-related complications increased by 24% from 1988 to 2009.
  • African-Americans are up to four times more likely to undergo an amputation than white Americans7.
  • In 2009, hospital costs associated with the amputation of a limb totaled more than $8 billion.
  • Five-year prosthetic costs for a person with a single lower limb amputation are estimated to total more than $230,000 and can be as high as $450,000 for a person with multiple amputations8.
  • According to a white paper report available through the National Institute for Technology Standards, coverage limitations on prosthetic devices is rampant among private insurers9.


  1. Ziegler-Graham K, MacKenzie EJ, Ephraim PL, Travison TG, Brookmeyer R. Estimating the Prevalence of Limb Loss in the United States: 2005 to 2050. Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. 2008;89(3):422-429.
  2. Owings M, Kozak LJ, National Center for Health S. Ambulatory and Inpatient Procedures in the United States, 1996. Hyattsville, MD.: U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Health Statistics; 1998.
  3. Dillingham TR, Pezzin LE, MacKenzie EJ. Limb Amputation and Limb Deficiency: Epidemiology and Recent Trends in the United States. Southern Medical Journal. 2002;95(8):875-883.
  4. Fischer H. U.S. Military Casualty Statistics: Operation New Dawn, Operation Iraqi Freedom, and Operation Enduring Freedom: Congressional Research Service; 2010.
  5. Russell KL. Amputations of upper and lower extremities, active and reserve components, U.S. Armed Forces 2000 - 2011. Medical Surveillance Monthly Report. 2012;19(6).
  6. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention NCfHS. Number (in Thousands) of Hospital Discharges for Nontraumatic Lower Extremity Amputation with Diabetes as a Listed Diagnosis, United States, 1988–2009. 2012; http://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/statistics/lea/fig1.htm. Accessed April 2, 2012.
  7. Fisher ES, Goodman DC, Chandra A. Disparities in Health and Health Care among Medicare Beneficiaries: A Brief Report of the Dartmouth Atlas Project: Robert Wood Johnson Foundation; 2008.
  8. Blough DK, Hubbard S, McFarland LV, Reiber GE, Smith DG, Gambel JM. Prosthetic Cost Projections for Servicemembers with Major Limb Loss From Vietnam and OIF/OEF. J. Rehabil. Res. Dev. Journal of Rehabilitation Research and Development. 2010;47(4):387-402.
  9. McGimpsey WG, Bradford TC. Limb Prosthetics Services and Devices. Gaithersburg, MD: National Institute of Science and Technology; 2008.