An amputation is the removal of a limb (arm or leg) or part of an extremity (foot, toe, hand or finger/s) secondary to:
• Extensive infection
• Lack of blood supply
Severe Peripheral Arterial Disease (PAD) causes a build-up of plaque in the artery wall and leads to the narrowing or blockage of blood flow to a limb. If you have both PAD and diabetes, you are at a particularly high risk for requiring an amputation.
Other medical conditions where an ampuatation may be indicated include; Non-healing wounds, extensive burns, frostbite, infection or tumors of the tissue or bone.
- BLEEDING & INFECTION are possible following any surgical procedure. Your surgical team will monitor bleeding during and immediately after surgery. To prevent infection, pre-operative antibiotics are administered and skin is cleansed with an antiseptic solution. Still, infections sometimes occur and require appropriate follow up and treatment.
- POOR WOUND HEALING or wound breakdown may occur, particularly if your surgery was due to an infection or poor blood flow. Your surgical team will meticulously check your incision during your hospital stay to monitor healing and watch for signs of infection.
- BLOOD CLOTS in the legs can develop due to lack of mobility after surgery. Low-dose blood thinners are often used to prevent clot formation.
- PHANTOM PAIN is a sensation that the limb is still there after an amputation has taken place. It can often be treated with medication or therapy.
- OTHER MEDICAL CONDITIONS, including coronary artery disease, heart disease, renal failure and diabetes can increase your risk for post-operative complications.
Amputations take place in the operating room. In most circumstances, you will be put to sleep under general or spinal anesthesia. Once asleep, a urinary catheter may be placed. The affected extremity will be prepped with an antiseptic solution and sterilely draped. You may be given an antibiotic if indicated. An incision is made to allow for sufficient healthy tissue to cover and protect the amputation stump.
In cases of extensive infections, the stump may be closed during a second procedure to allow time for the infection to drain. When stumps are closed, internal drains may be placed to collect fluid or blood for a time, and be removed before discharge.
How to Prepare
Your vascular surgeon will give you instructions on how to prepare, including which medications to take the morning of the surgery.
If you are not already in the hospital, you will be notified where and when to report on the day of surgery.
Starting 8 hours before surgery or at midnight the night before surgery, you will need to fast. Designated morning medications may be taken with a sip of water.
What Can I Expect After Treatment?
After an amputation, you may be required to stay in the hospital to monitor your progress. Qualifications for discharge from the hospital include adequate pain control on oral medication, signs that the amputation stump is healing properly.
Many times, significant pre-surgical discomfort is relieved. However, you may have pain related to the incision that can be relieved with appropriate medications. Antibiotics can be prescribed if necessary.
THERAPY & POSSIBLE REHAB TIME
You will work with physical therapy to learn how to adjust to your activity. Your care team may also recommend that you spend time at a rehabilitation facility before going home.
Sutures or staples are generally removed after 3 weeks. After an amputation, Dr. Khan and his surgical team will monitor your healing process and assess if you are an appropriate candidate for a prosthesis. The preparation and fitting a prosthesis is typically under the supervision of a physiatrist and/ or a prosthetist.