Amputation -- General Overview
|Above the Knee Amputation|
|Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.|
Reasons for Procedure
Peripheral arterial disease
- Untreatable pain
- Severe soft tissue infection
- Severe trauma that cannot be repaired
- Complications of diabetes
- Untreatable bone infection ( osteomyelitis )
- Malignant tumor
- Congenital deformity (present at birth)
- Severe frostbite
Complications of connective tissue diseases, such as:
- Poor healing at amputation site, resulting in the need for a higher level of amputation
- Skin breakdown
- Swelling at surgical site
- Phantom limb pain —feeling pain in amputated limb area
- Phantom sensation—feeling that amputated limb is still there
- Blood clots
- Complications of anesthesia
What to Expect
Prior to Procedure
- Imaging studies to look at the bones and surrounding tissue for evidence and location of disease or trauma, including:
- Tissue cultures
- Blood tests
- Heart evaluation
- Preoperative antibiotics
- Tests to evaluate blood flow in the part of the body that is being amputated
- Arrange for a ride home from the hospital.
- Arrange for help at home after your surgery.
- Follow instructions for eating before surgery—usually nothing after midnight.
- You may be asked to use an antibacterial soap the morning of your surgery.
Description of Procedure
How Long Will It Take?
How Much Will It Hurt?
Average Hospital Stay
- Foot or toe amputation: 2-7 days
- Leg amputation: 2 days to 2 weeks or more
- Upper extremity: 7-12 days
- Finger amputation: 0-1 day
- The area involved will be elevated. This will decrease swelling.
- Your limb will be dressed in bulky dressing, elastic bandage, or cast.
- You will be encouraged to get up and walk as soon as possible.
- Physical therapy will begin within a day or two of surgery. It will focus on improving strength and mobility.
- You may wear a cast or special shoe for toe/foot amputations.
- You may be given certain medicines. This may include antibiotics or blood thinners.
- You will be fitted with a prosthesis as soon as your wound has healed.
- Washing their hands
- Wearing gloves or masks
- Keeping your incisions covered
- Washing your hands often and reminding your healthcare providers to do the same
- Reminding your healthcare providers to wear gloves or masks
- Not allowing others to touch your incision
- Follow the instructions for keeping your incision clean .
- Follow instructions on how to care for your prosthesis.
- Counseling may be recommended for the emotional trauma of an amputation.
- Attend follow up appointments with your doctor. They will make sure you are healing well.
- Check with your doctor about which medicines to take at home.
- Maintain a healthy body weight for overall health and to make sure your prosthesis fits well.
Keep your blood vessels healthy:
- If you smoke, quit. Smoking can interfere with healing.
- Avoid foods that are high in fat and cholesterol.
- If you are diabetic, check your blood sugar levels and eat right.
- Exercise regularly.
Call Your Doctor
- Signs of infection, including fever and chills
- Redness, swelling, increasing pain, excessive bleeding, or discharge from the incision sites
- Increasing or excessive pain
- Cough, shortness of breath, or chest pain
- Severe nausea and vomiting
American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons http://www.aaos.org
Amputee Coalition of America http://www.amputee-coalition.org
The Canadian Orthopaedic Foot & Ankle Association http://www.coa-aco.org
Canadian Orthopaedic Foundation http://www.canorth.org
Amputation. Society for Vascular Surgery website. Available at: http://www.vascularweb.org/patients/NorthPoint/Amputation.html. Accessed November 17, 2008.
Amputation of the foot or toe. EBSCO Health Library website. Available at: http://healthlibrary.epnet.com/GetContent.aspx?token=D39207C8-9100-4DC0-9027-9AC6BA11942D&chunkiid=14763. Accessed November 17, 2008.
Amputation of the hand or finger and prosthetics. American Society for Surgery of the Hand website. Available at: http://www.assh.org/Content/NavigationMenu/PatientsPublic/HandConditions/AmputationandProsthetics/Amputation%5Fand%5FPros.htm. Accessed November 17, 2008.
Badash M. Amputation, above the knee. EBSCO Health Library website. Available at: http://healthlibrary.epnet.com/GetContent.aspx?token=D39207C8-9100-4DC0-9027-9AC6BA11942D&chunkiid=14822. Accessed November 17, 2008.
Bone Sarcoma in the Upper Extremity: Treatment Options Using Limb Salvage or Amputation. American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons website. Available at: http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=A00092#Rehabilitation/Convalescence. Accessed November 18, 2008.
Buerger’s disease: what is it? Vascular Disease Foundation website. Available at: http://www.vdf.org/diseaseinfo/buergers. Updated October 31, 2008. Accessed December 16, 2008.
Fingertip injuries/amputations. American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons website. Available at: http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=A00014. Accessed November 18, 2008.
- Reviewer: John C. Keel, MD
- Review Date: 12/2012 -
- Update Date: 01/23/2014 -
This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.
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