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Why an amputation?

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What is an amputation?

An amputation is a very drastic event, both for you and your immediate family.  Yet an amputation is in many cases necessary and lifesaving.

An amputation will only be performed if there is such tissue damage that not proceeding to amputate would be life-threatening.

In the case of an amputation, part of the body is removed. This can be just a toe or a finger, but it can also be a foot, a leg or an arm. It’s important to understand that this disrupts the completeness of the body.

In such instance, an artificial limb (replacement limb or prosthesis) offers a solution. A prosthesis is measured and made by an orthopaedic instrument maker or prosthetist.

Why an amputation?

An amputation is usually a life-saving operation. The most common cause for an amputation is a vascular issue. A lack of blood supply can lead to tissue damage or tissue dying off.

Diabetesinfection, an accident, a tumour or excruciating pain, can cause such damage that failure to amputate the limb can become life-threatening. 

In the event of a leg amputation, it’s important that a residual limb (i.e. stump) is created that is suitable for walking or functioning with a prosthesis. Prior to surgery, the surgeon determines the best level of amputation.

Unnecessarily postponing an amputation operation is not desirable. The tissue damage continues, causing the level of amputation to become higher and wearing the prosthesis becomes more difficult.

The amputation itself

In every surgical intervention, the surgeon aims to achieve two primary goals, both of which are critical to the success of the surgery. The first goal is to remove the illdamaged or dysfunctional part of the limb. The second goal is the reconstruction of the remaining part of the limb.

Reconstruction is aimed at promoting wound healing and creating the most optimal sensory and motor end result. The success of any amputation operation depends on the balance between these two main goals.

In order to be a specialist, a surgeon must understand not only the surgical principles, but also all aspects of healing, rehabilitation, residual limb physiology and the nature of prosthetic replacements. Only through a comprehensive understanding of all these elements of the amputation process can the surgeon provide the best amputation care for his/her patient.