- by Medikoe Health Expert
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- Feb 09 2017
Know more about 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.
Why are amputations required:
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 very 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 extremely cold climates, frostbites also require amputations.
Deformities in limbs leading to extremely limited movement and functionality also require amputation for treatment.
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.
Amputation may require you to stay at the hospital anywhere from a few days to weeks. The procedure mostly depends on the extremity of the condition or the limb being amputated. The amputation is done either under general anesthesia (the patient is asleep) or spinal anesthesia (the lower half of the body is numb).
The aim of the surgery is to remove all the damaged tissue while leaving as much healthy tissue as possible. The surgeon removes the diseased tissue and the crushed bone and smoothens the uneven surfaces of the bones. The blood vessels and nerves are sealed off and muscles are shaped so that it 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 additional tissues need to be removed.
The recovery depends on the type of amputation done and anesthesia used. A regular dressing of the wounds is done to reduce the risk of infections. The doctor closely 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 counseling 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 starts with an artificial limb (sometimes as soon as 10 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 with the new body image is another important part of recovery.
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