Medical Definition of Amputation

  • Medical Author:
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

Amputation: Removal of part or all of a body part that is enclosed by skin. Amputation can occur at an accident site, the scene of an animal attack, or a battlefield. Amputation is also performed as a surgical procedure. It is typically performed to prevent the spread of gangrene as a complication of frostbite, injury, diabetes, arteriosclerosis, or any other illness that impairs blood circulation. It is also performed to prevent the spread of bone cancer and to curtail loss of blood and infection in a person who has suffered severe, irreparable damage to a limb. When performing an amputation, surgeons generally cut above the diseased or injured area so that a portion of healthy tissue remains to cushion bone. Sometimes the location of a cut may depend in part on its suitability to be fitted with an artificial limb, or prosthesis.

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Reviewed on 12/11/2018

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