Amputation -- General Overview

An amputation is a surgery to remove a body part. It is removed because of disease or damage.

  • Call Your Doctor


    Call your doctor if any of these occur:

    • Signs of infection, including fever and chills
    • Redness, swelling, increasing pain, excessive bleeding, or discharge from the incision sites
    • Increasing or excessive pain
    • Cough, shortness of breath, or chest pain
    • Severe nausea and vomiting

    If you think you have emergency, call for medical help right away.

  • Definition

    An amputation is a surgery to remove a body part. It is removed because of disease or damage.

    Above the Knee Amputation
    cropped leg
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  • Reasons for Procedure


    An amputation is typically done for one of the following reasons:

    • Peripheral arterial disease
      (PAD) causing:

      • Gangrene
      • Untreatable pain
      • Severe soft tissue infection
    • Severe trauma that cannot be repaired
    • Complications of diabetes

    • Untreatable bone infection (osteomyelitis)
    • Malignant tumor
    • Congenital deformity (present at birth)

    • Severe
      frostbite

    • Complications of connective tissue diseases, such as:

      • Lupus
      • Scleroderma

  • Possible Complications


    If you are planning to have an amputation, your doctor will review a list of possible complications, which may include:

    • Poor healing at amputation site, resulting in the need for a higher level of amputation
    • Skin breakdown
    • Infection
    • Bleeding
    • Swelling at surgical site
    • Phantom limb pain—feeling pain in amputated limb area
    • Phantom sensation—feeling that amputated limb is still there
    • Blood clots
    • Complications of anesthesia

    Before your procedure, talk to your doctor about ways to manage factors that may increase your risk of complications such as:

    • Smoking
    • Drinking
    • Chronic diseases, such as diabetes or obesity

  • What to Expect