For a variety of reasons, primary amputation is often advised in the elderly individual with a severely ischemic leg. Reinforcing this recommendation is the perception that reconstructive arterial surgery in this group is far more expensive than the primary amputation. Living more than only one more year after amputation, professional nursing care cost approaches $100,000. In two recent studies, the cost for patients undergoing primary below the knee amputations plus rehabilitation was almost identical to the mean patient cost for arterial reconstruction. In addition, under the prospective payment systems, substantial financial loss accrues to hospitals caring for these patients.