What is it?
An amputation is the surgical removal of a part of the body, such as a whole limb or a portion of it, when other procedures have failed or are not possible due to your general state of health.
In modern medicine, amputations are a last resort measure to be used when other treatments are not successful.
Why is it done?
An amputation may be necessary under the following circumstances:
- when it is the only option for malignant tumour resection.
- as a consequence of a severe trauma (for instance, a car accident).
- to save a part of a limb which has gangrenous tissue.
90% of amputations are associated with diabetes-induced conditions, and although it usually involves the feet or legs an amputation can also be performed on the arms, hands or fingers. According to data, 65,000 amputation surgeries are performed in the United Kingdom each year.
What does it involve?
Before the procedure, the surgical team will carry out a number of checks to make sure the operation side and level of amputation is correct. It is important to choose an area with good circulation, in order to facilitate the recovery and healing process.
Various anaesthetic techniques are possible. The procedure itself is done in several phases. First of all, the doctor will measure and restrict the blood flow of the designated limb as to avoid the risk of haemorrhaging. After that, the muscle tissue will be dissected in order to cut off the bone. Finally, the surgeon will close up by suturing the area.
The main complications of an amputation are getting further necrosis or infection, which might require to perform another amputation at a higher level. Although it is a major form of surgery with a potentially significant impact on life, there are specific prostheses available that allow people who had an amputation to live and walk.
How can I prepare for it?
You will need to undergo a though rough anaesthetic assessment before the procedure. You will do several tests to exclude conditions that may affect the outcome of this procedure. If you smoke, stop smoking. Stopping several weeks or more before the amputation can help reduce the risk of having heart attack and reduce the complications rates. If you are diabetic, maintain blood sugar levels under control around the time of the procedure reduces the risk of infection and encourages wound healing.
After the procedure, your doctor will prescribe you painkillers and antibiotics to avoid any potential risks of infection. Within a couple of days, you’ll need to get started on physical therapy, so that you can move your stump and prosthesis in the best possible way. How long you’ll be in hospital for depends on where the amputation is made. In the most serious cases, when the operation site is above the knees, you could be in hospital for several weeks.
You may also receive psychological support with the emotional impact of amputation, as well as the phenomenon of “phantom limb”, which can cause you to still feel the amputated limb is attached, or even feel pain from it.04-25-2016 10-16-2023