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Amputation - Reasons, Procedure, & Rehabilitation

Medikoe Health Expert

Medikoe Health Expert

  Koramangala, bengaluru, karnataka, india, Bengaluru     Feb 9, 2017

   3 min     


What is Amputation?

Amputation refers to the removal of a limb. There are several reasons why an amputation might be required, like containing pain or preventing certain diseases from spreading in the rest of the body. Amputation of the leg above or below the knee is one of the most common amputation surgery. 

Reasons for Amputation 

There can be many reasons for which amputations are done. Some of these are: 

  • Peripheral arterial disease causing poor circulation due to damage or narrowing of the arteries. Due to a lack of blood supply, the tissues begin to die and are prone to infections. Hence, amputations are done as a preventive measure. 
  • A severe injury due caused due to accidents, fire, or other similar reasons might require amputation. 
  • Another common reason why amputations are done is to prevent the spreading of diseases like cancer. If a malignant tumor infects a bone or muscle of the limb, amputation is a very effective way to prevent it from spreading to other parts of the body as it can have fatal results. 
  • Severe infection in the limbs may require amputation. 
  • Amputation is also done when the limbs are affected by gangrene.
  • In freezing climates, frostbites also require amputations. 
  • Deformities in limbs leading to minimal movement and functionality also require amputation for treatment. 

Medical Management of Amputation 

Unless its an emergency condition, the doctors carry out a detailed assessment of the affected area before carrying out amputation. This assessment may include: 

  • Accessing systems of the body, including cardiovascular and respiratory system and checking the function of bowels and bladders. 
  • Functionality and the condition of the healthy limb as amputation of affected limb puts more pressure on the healthier one. 
  • A psychological assessment is also done to help you cope up with amputation in a better way. 
  • You will also be assisted by a physiotherapist or a prosthetist to make the entire process smooth. 

Procedure of Amputation 

Amputation may require you to stay at the hospital anywhere from a few days to weeks. The method mostly depends on the extremity of the condition of the limb being amputated. The amputation is done either under general anaesthesia (the patient is asleep) or spinal anaesthesia (the lower half of the body is numb). 

The surgery aims to remove all the damaged tissue while leaving as much healthy tissue as possible. The surgeon removes the diseased tissue and crushed bone and smoothens the uneven surfaces of the bones. The blood vessels and nerves are sealed off, and muscles are shaped so that they can have a prosthetic attached to it. The surgeon may either seal off the wound by sewing the skin or leave the site open in case new tissues need to be removed. 

Rehabilitation after Amputation

The recovery depends on the type of amputation done and anaesthesia used. Regular dressing of the wounds is done to reduce the risk of infections. The doctor carefully monitors the patient’s recovery and looks after conditions like diabetes or hardening of arteries which may interfere with the recovery. Medications are also prescribed to ease the pain, prevent infection, and fasten the healing process.

The patient may feel phantom pain (pain in the amputated limb) or maybe in grief due to the lost limb. Both medications and counselling may help overcome depression and sadness. Besides, interacting with other people who have undergone amputation also helps in overcoming the grief. 

The next step in rehabilitation is physical therapy which starts with gentle stretching exercises. The exercise soon begins with an artificial limb (sometimes as early as ten days after the surgery). The long term goal is to regain control over the muscles and perform routine tasks with minimal or nil discomfort. Besides physical rehabilitation, adjusting to the new body image is another important part of recovery. 

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Krishna Mekala
Krishna Mekala |  November 17th, 2017

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