Limb amputation refers to the loss of a limb, typically an arm or a leg or their segments (for example a digit) either during a surgery, a traumatic event or as a consequence of congenital disease.
A surgical amputation is often performed as a last resort, to address end-stage medical conditions (diabetic foot, vascular insufficiency) or post-injuries complications. An amputation is a life-changing event and a burden to all aspects of a patient’s life. Comprehensive support and care to amputees improve their adaptation to the new situation and learning to lead fulfilling lives. Also, recent advances in medical technology and rehabilitation have been significantly improving their quality of life.
The physical and emotional experience varies among amputees and depends on the individual internal factors as well as on external environment and its support. Shock, grief, and a sense of loss often follow the amputation. The loss of a limb significantly impacts body image, self-esteem, and performance of daily activities and job, and leads to feelings of frustration and uncertainty about the future.
Physically, many amputees experience one of many types of pain. In patients who struggled with severe pain prior to amputation, the pain often persists after the procedure. Some patients might experience phantom limb sensations or phantom pain – adverse sensation in an amputated limb. This phenomenon can be distressing, but it tends to diminish over time.
It is essential for patients to communicate openly with their healthcare providers and seek psychological support and adequate pharmacological treatment to cope with complex emotional and physical distress and address it at the initial phase.
Limb amputation can result from various medical conditions and traumatic events:
Amputation is a very difficult decision not only for a patient, but also for the healthcare providers. The medical team will explore non-surgical and surgical options to address the underlying conditions, preserve the residual limb’s function, prevent complications, aid with functional and psychological improvement and pain management.
The specific surgical procedure will depend on the level of amputation and the condition of the residual stump as well as other symptoms. Surgical techniques have advanced significantly, leading to better surgical outcomes and improved recovery periods.
The surgical procedures available for patients after amputation:
For detailed information on the surgical procedures involved in limb amputation, please visit our Limb Reconstruction page.