Why do I need an amputation?

Amputations can be peformed for a number of reasons, the most common being due to poor peripheral circulation, where the blood supply to a limb is reduced. This is known as Peripheral Vascular Disease. This can lead to constant pain, infection and gangrene in the affected limb. Amputations may also be necessary in diabetes, in those with severe ulcers, in cancer and following a road traffic or industrial accident where it was not possible to salvage the limb.

When do we decide to amputate?

Deciding to go ahead with an amputation is a difficult decision, and we must ensure that the patient is fully informed about their condition, the surgery they will undergo and the rehabilitation process. Where possible, i.e. in non-emergency situations, the patient will have the opportunity to ask the surgeon more about the process numerous times, and is advised to reach out to support groups consisting of others who have been through a similar process.

Are there any alternatives to amputation?

Amputating a limb is a last resort option, and is only carried out when no other surgical option is available to us.

What are the types of lower limb amputation?

Lower limb (leg) amputations may be:

• below knee

• above knee

• through knee

• trans metatarsal (Toes)

• bilateral amputation (both limbs involved)

What are the risks involved in amputation?

As with any surgery, we cannot exclude risks completely but unexpected complications are rare. Complications which may arise as part of the surgery include wound infections, phantom limb pain, pressure ulceration and more. These complications should be discussed in detail with your surgeon prior to the operation.

Who will be involved in my treatment?

Whilst in hospital, there are a number of people who will be involved in your care. These are different health professionals, who will be responsible for different aspects of your care and make up the ‘Multidisciplinary team (MDT)’. These consist of surgeons, nurses, physiotherapists, occupational therapists, social workers and dieticians.

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