- The level of amputation continues to present a challenge for surgeons. In view of this, 24 patients who required an amputation of their ischaemic leg were studied prospectively using Laser Doppler flowmetry (LDF), TcpO2 measurements and Doppler ultrasound to assess the best level for amputation. In all patients gangrene of the leg and rest pain were the indication for an amputation. Skin oxygen tension (TcpO2) and skin blood flow (LDF) measurements were obtained the day before surgery on the proposed anterior and posterior skin flaps for below knee amputation and the maximum Doppler systolic pressure was measured. The level of amputation was chosen at surgery by clinical judgement without reference to the measurements mentioned above. A below knee amputation was performed in 17 patients and an above knee in seven. All amputations healed by primary intention. Doppler pressures showed poor discrimination with a median value of 10 mmHg (0-25) in AK patients and 35 mmHg (0-85) in the BK group (p greater than 0.05). In contrast TcpO2 showed a trend. In the BK group the median value was 20 mmHg (4-50) on the anterior and 22 mmHg (2-60) on the posterior flap compared to above knee amputees with median values of 6 mmHg (2-11) and 8 mmHg (3-38), respectively (p greater than 0.05). Laser Doppler seemed more useful. In BK patients the median LDF values were 36 mV (20-85) on the anterior and 34 mV (20-80) on the posterior flap with median LDF values of 10 mV (10-18) on the anterior and 11 mV (8-38) on the posterior flap in the above knee group (p less than 0.01). Laser Doppler flowmetry is a simple objective test, which is a better discriminator of skin flap perfusion than either TcpO2 or Doppler ankle pressures.