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Amputation Surgery 

Amputation surgery is performed to control pain and prevent the spread of infection following a serious injury or illness. In instances where salvaging a limb or extremity is either impossible or would not restore enough function, amputation surgery is necessary to alleviate pain and keep an infection from spreading throughout the body. All or part of a limb (arm or leg) or extremity (hand, fingers, foot or toes) may be removed with this surgery. 

Conditions Treated by Amputation 

Amputation is only considered in dire situations as a last-resort option for treatment, as it is a life-altering procedure. These include: 

  • Severe injuries in which the limb or extremity cannot be repaired
  • Complications from diabetes that cause tissue death,
  • infections and wounds that won’t heal 
  • Peripheral arterial disease (PAD), which damages the arteries and affects blood flow 
  • Gangrene 
  • Thickened nerve tissue (neuroma) 
  • Frostbite 

Without amputation, these conditions can cause sepsis, tissue death and organ failure. 

Procedure Details 

A surgeon will first remove all diseased or damaged tissue and bone in the area, preserving as much of the healthy tissue and bone as possible. After sealing the blood vessels, the muscles will be reshaped to create the stump. This allows for a prosthetic limb to be more easily attached. 

What to Expect 

You will receive anesthesia for the procedure and will be kept in the hospital for at least several days for monitoring. Depending on the nature of your amputation surgery—for example, if you’ve had an arm or a leg amputated—you may learn how to use your prosthetic limb (or how to do things without one) at a physical rehabilitation facility. 

Risks of amputation, as with any surgery, include: 

  • Infection at the wound site 
  • Blood clots 
  • Excessive bleeding 
  • Swelling 
  • Muscle weakness 
  • Pain 
  • Complications from anesthesia 

Many patients who undergo amputation surgery will experience phantom limb pain, where nerves in the stump send pain signals to the brain, but this is generally temporary. 

Effectiveness of Amputation 

Amputation is very effective at relieving pain and preventing the spread of infection. Recovery times vary by patient, as does the learning curve of adapting to life without a limb. While the loss of certain body parts will undoubtedly lead to lifestyle changes in many patients, it is still possible to have a physically active life. 

Tampa General Hospital’s nationally renowned orthopaedic, vascular and general surgeons achieve world-class results for patients who require amputation surgery and help them regain their independence through physical therapy and rehabilitation.