The majority of American soldiers undergoing amputation for war wounds last fall lost more than one limb, according to data presented Tuesday to the Defense Health Board, a committee of experts that advises the Defense Department on medical matters.
Military officials had previously released data showing that amputations, and especially multiple-limb losses, increased last year. The information presented to the 20-member board is the first evidence that the steepest increase occurred over the last four months of the year.
In September 2010, about two-thirds of all war-theater amputation operations involved a single limb (usually a leg) and one-third two or more limbs. The split was roughly 50-50 in October and November. In December, only one-quarter of amputation surgery involved only one limb; three-quarters involved the loss of two or more limbs.
The Marines, who make up 20 percent of the forces in Iraq and Afghanistan, were especially hard hit. Of the 66 wounded severely enough to be evacuated overseas in October, one-third lost a limb.