What does a lower-extremity amputation mean?
Lower-extremity amputation is the removal of a part/s of the lower limb. It is one of the oldest known surgeries.
Humans in the stone age have been known to survive amputations arising out of injuries, rituals, and punishments. Cave-wall hand imprints showing the loss of fingers or toes have been also found. Unearthed mummies have been found buried with cosmetic replacements for amputated limbs.
With advancements in the field of medical science and technology, surgical amputations with the postoperative prosthesis are typically performed after all other options have been exhausted. The goal is to preserve as much of the limb and surgical reconstruction that maintains the most functionality. Amputation is done when the removal of the diseased limb becomes necessary to eliminate toxins from the body and save the patient’s life.
The number of amputations in the United States is expected to increase from 1.6 million in 2005 to 3.6 million in 2050. Whatever the reason for performing an amputation, it should not be viewed as a failure of treatment. Amputation can be the treatment of choice for a severe injury, vascular diseases (e.g., deep vein thrombosis or DVT) and tumors.
Having an amputation should not be considered a path that leads to physical restriction or dependence. After the removal of a diseased limb and the application of an appropriate prosthesis, the person can resume an independent lifestyle.
A team of healthcare providers consisting of a surgeon, primary care physician, physical therapist, prosthetist, and counselor works with the patient. They teach the patient to lead an independent life by training them about how to walk with a prosthesis, apply and remove the prosthesis, care for the prosthesis, monitor the skin and the presence of any pressure points, walk on difficult terrain, and use the toilet at night.
What are the levels of lower-extremity amputations?
The various levels of lower-extremity amputations are as follows:
- Foot, including toes or partial foot
- Ankle disarticulation (at the ankle)
- Transtibial (below the knee)
- Knee disarticulation (at the knee)
- Transfemoral (above the knee)
- Hip disarticulation (at the hip)
Who needs a lower-extremity amputation?
Amputation may be performed for diseased limbs and devastating lower-extremity injuries for which attempts to save and reconstruct may be lengthy, and emotionally and financially costly with an unacceptable result. The indications are as follows:
What are the common complications of a lower extremity amputation?
The common complications of a lower extremity amputation include the following:
Health Solutions From Our Sponsors
Medscape Medical Reference
Top What Are the Levels of Lower-Extremity Amputations Related Articles
Blood Clots: 4 Signs You Could Have OneBlood clots can be deadly medical emergencies that can form in different parts of your body. Learn the warning signs that you might have one.
Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT, Blood Clot in the Legs)Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) is a blood clot in the deep veins, and can be caused by broken bones, trauma to a limb, immobility, medications, smoking, cancer, genetic predisposition, and cancer. Symptoms of a deep vein thrombosis in a leg are swelling, tenderness, redness, warmth, and pain. Treatments for DVT include medications and surgery.
DVT QuizTake the Deep Vein Thrombosis and Pulmonary Embolism Quiz to learn causes, symptoms, and treatments for these two dangerous conditions.
Healthy Eating: Foods That Help Increase Blood Flow CirculationGood blood flow circulation occurs when you eat the right foods. Choose cayenne pepper, beets, berries, fatty fish, pomegranate, garlic, walnuts, grapes, turmeric, spinach, and citrus fruit to keep blood flowing.
DVT SlideshowDeep vein thrombosis (DVT) is a dangerous and sometimes fatal blood clot that occurs deep within the lower leg or thigh. Understand the symptoms, treatment and prevention of deep vein thrombosis (DVT).
DVT and Birth Control Pills (Oral Contraceptives)
Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) is a blood clot that has traveled deep into the veins of the arm, pelvis, or lower extremities. Oral contraceptives or birth control pills can slightly increase a woman’s risk for developing blood clots, including DVT.
DVT symptoms and signs in the leg include leg or calf pain, redness, swelling, warmth, or leg cramps, and skin discoloration. If a blood clot in the leg is not treated, it can travel to the lungs, which can cause a pulmonary embolism (blood clot in the lung) or post-thrombotic syndrome, both of which can be fatal if not treated immediately.
Increased risk factors for DVT and birth control pills include over 40 years of age, family history, smoking, and obesity. Other medical problems that increase the risks of blood clots, for example, lung or heart disease, or inflammatory bowel disease or IBD (Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis (UC).
Other options for preventing pregnancy include IUDs, birth control shots, condoms, diaphragms, and progestin-only oral contraceptives.
DVT (Deep Vein Thrombosis) During Pregnancy
Deep vein thrombosis or DVT is a condition in which a blood clot becomes embedded in one of the deep veins of the arms, thighs, pelvis, or lower legs. Warning signs and symptoms of DVT include pain, warmth, redness, swelling, leg cramps, and worsening leg pain in the affected extremity.
Many conditions and other factors can cause DVTs, for example, during pregnancy including postpartum (6-8 weeks after delivery of the baby), obesity, heart attacks or heart failure, cancer, birth control pills (oral contraceptives), recent surgery, high altitudes, and advanced age.
Treatment guidelines for DVT diagnosed during pregnancy is anticoagulation (anti-clotting) drugs, usually, low-molecular-weight heparins. DVT treatment may need to be continued postpartum. Warfarin (Coumadin, Jantoven) should not be used to treat DVT during pregnancy because it can harm the developing fetus.
Peripheral Vascular DiseasePeripheral vascular disease (PVD) refers to diseases of the blood vessels (arteries and veins) located outside the heart and brain. While there are many causes of peripheral vascular disease, doctors commonly use the term peripheral vascular disease to refer to peripheral artery disease (peripheral arterial disease, PAD), a condition that develops when the arteries that supply blood to the internal organs, arms, and legs become completely or partially blocked as a result of atherosclerosis. Peripheral artery disease symptoms include intermittent leg pain while walking, leg pain at rest, numbness in the legs or feet, and poor wound healing in the legs or feet. Treatment for peripheral artery disease include lifestyle measures, medication, angioplasty, and surgery.
Peripheral Vascular Disease PictureDiabetes also affects the blood vessels and alters the flow of blood. See a picture of Peripheral Vascular Disease and learn more about the health topic.
Vascular DiseaseVascular disease includes any condition that affects your circulatory system. Vascular disease ranges from diseases of your arteries, veins and lymph vessels to blood disorders that affect circulation.
What Is Transmetatarsal Amputation?Transmetatarsal amputation (TMA) involves surgical removal of a part of the foot that includes the metatarsals. TMA is a relatively common operation performed to treat a severely infected foot or a foot with lack of oxygen supply (ischemic). Surgeons resort to this type of surgery when all other nonsurgical options to save the foot or limb have failed. Removing the infected part prevents the infection from spreading to the other parts of the limb and thus saves the limb in the long run.