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Limb Salvage Program

Candidates for limb salvage have typically been the victims of serious accidents or biological conditions such as tumors or chronic infections. J. Dean Cole, MD, the medical director at the Florida Hospital Orthopaedic Institute Orlando (FHOIO), has made great strides in limb salvage surgery, a unique treatment option sometimes used as an alternative to limb amputation. This limb-sparing surgery enables our surgeons to salvage the limb, thereby maintaining the patient’s quality of life.

While it is an effective alternative to limb amputation, the decision to perform limb-salvage surgery can only be made by a skilled, experienced physician. Limb-salvage surgery is not a simple matter. Patients may need multiple surgeries to save an arm or leg.

Special procedures, including bone and skin grafts, bone resection, and reconstructive and plastic surgeries, may be needed. The patient’s family and friends also play large roles as a support system in the recovery process. For that reason, our physicians conduct a detailed individual patient evaluation for each case.

Having performed numerous limb-salvage surgeries, J. Dean Cole, MD and his colleagues have amassed an invaluable experience and unrivaled skill in the treatment of complex orthopedic trauma. This allows them to expertly perform these procedures, enabling patients to keep their extremities, which permits them to continue leading productive, functional lives.

At the FHOIO, our surgeons are very skilled in saving patients’ limbs. For additional information on limb-salvage procedures, visit the Florida Hospital Orthopaedic Institute Orlando website or contact us today.


In cases where amputation seems the only viable option, limb-salvage (or limb-sparing) surgery may offer patients hope. Whatever the cause, patients facing amputation of their arms or legs can turn to the Florida Hospital Orthopaedic Institute Orlando (FHOIO), where J. Dean Cole, MD, the Center’s medical director, has a wealth of unique experience performing these procedures for qualified patients.

Limb salvage is considered a leading alternative to limb amputation. This surgery is intended for situations in which the resources necessary to keep patients’ limbs intact are unavailable. It may benefit those who have experienced life-threatening injuries or uncontrolled bleeding, vascular injuries, infections or tumors.

The FHOIO conducts thorough patient evaluations for all our cases. If patients qualify for limb-salvage surgery, J. Dean Cole, MD and his fellow surgeons employ a minimally invasive surgical approach. Limb-salvage treatment allows patients to keep their extremities and continue to lead productive, functional lives. In addition, the recovery process for these severe injuries offers minimal restrictions.

However, limb salvage can be a lengthy, difficult and sometimes painful process. Patients may need a full year of multiple, complex surgeries to ensure productive outcomes. Not all patients qualify for these procedures, which can include bone and skin grafts, bone resections, and reconstructive and plastic surgeries. Psychologists, social workers, rehabilitation specialists, and other mental and emotional health professionals may be required, as well.

While it is an effective alternative to limb amputation, limb salvage should only be performed by qualified orthopedic surgeons with a unique, specific breadth of experience. J. Dean Cole, MD has over 25 years of experience in orthopedic traumatology, he having performed many limb salvage procedures with impressive results. In addition, he has developed techniques and procedures that can save injured arms and legs.

Other surgeons commonly refer severely injured patients to J. Dean Cole, MD, knowing that he may be able to salvage extremities when others cannot. Our FHOIO surgeons excel at addressing the problems that may develop during the early stages of these severe injuries, and treat the infections and skin problems associated with these wounds. If patients qualify for surgery, the FHOIO stresses the commitment necessary for potential patients and their loved ones.

The Florida Hospital Orthopaedic Institute Orlando provides unrivaled care and treatment for joint injuries, which are common with these severe accidents. J. Dean Cole, MD may perform a primary arthrodesis, also known as “joint fusions” or “joint salvage.” The Center’s skilled surgeons can determine whether surgery or natural healing is the best treatment option.

Patient healing plays a major part in the Center’s limb salvage treatment of severe fractures and injuries. J. Dean Cole, MD and the FHOIO’s surgeons utilize the latest, most advanced procedures to align broken bones and improve healing potential. However, with severe injury or trauma to bone, abnormal healing is always a possible concern. Drs. Cole, Vickaryous and Hawks’ unique experience allows them to anticipate, treat and avoid these complications whenever possible.

If bone grafting is necessary, our FHOIO physicians utilize bones other than the pelvis, which is typically used in the traditional approach. They do so because patients typically complain of pelvic pain after grafting. Once properly healed, the Center’s surgeons have to skill and experience to address the complex scenarios that may present, including patients suffering severe and complex injuries to their extremities.

If you would like additional limb salvage information or to schedule an appointment with one of our experts, please visit the Florida Hospital Orthopaedic Institute Orlando website.

Patient Stories

Following a severe accident, Brian almost lost his lower left leg to amputation. When Dr. J. Dean Cole evaluated him, Brian had severe bone infection of the tibia and had lost a major portion of his skin and leg muscles. J. Dean Cole, MD determined that several surgeries were necessary to address Brian’s situation.

Initially Brian’s leg was cleaned in surgery, and the infected dead bone was removed. To cover the soft tissue defect, J. Dean Cole, MD and his team moved part of the healthy skin and muscle from his leg to cover the exposed areas. Skin grafts were needed to cover other superficial wounds on Brian’s leg.

As a result of the amount of dead skin and infected bone the FHOIO’s surgeons removed, Brian had a four-inch limb discrepancy. J. Dean Cole, MD successfully lengthened Brian’s leg in two stages, timed about a year apart, using the Intramedullary Skeletal Kinetic Distractor (ISKD)—a device invented by J. Dean Cole, MD. The ISKD allowed Brian to continue working during the healing process, and today, Brian is able to walk with very little difficulty.