An amputation is the surgical removal of part of the body, such as an arm or leg.

This topic may be helpful if you or a member of your family has recently had an amputation or is about to have one.

An amputation may be needed if:

  • you have a severe infection in your limb
  • your limb has been affected by gangrene (often as a result of peripheral arterial disease)
  • there’s serious trauma to your limbs, such as a crush or blast wound
  • your limb is deformed and has limited movement and function

Assessment Before Surgery

Unless you need to have an emergency amputation, you’ll be fully assessed before surgery to identify the most suitable type of amputation and any factors that may affect your rehabilitation.

The assessment is likely to include a thorough medical examination to check your physical condition, such as your nutritional status, bowel and bladder function, cardiovascular system (heart, blood and blood vessels) and your respiratory system (lungs and airways).

The doctor will also check the condition and function of your healthy limb. Removing one limb can place extra strain on the remaining limb, so it’s important to look after the healthy limb.

It may also include a psychological assessment to determine how well you’ll cope with the psychological and emotional impact of amputation, and whether you’ll need additional support.

There may be an assessment of your home, work and social environments to check if any changes will need to be made to help you cope.

You’ll also be introduced to a physiotherapist, who will be involved in your post-operative care. A prosthetist (a specialist in prosthetic limbs) will advise you about the type and function of prosthetic limbs or other devices available.

If you’re having a planned amputation, you might find it reassuring to talk to someone who’s had a similar type of amputation. A member of your care team may be able to arrange this.

Finding Your Feet have a private Facebook group which is a great place you can go to get advice or just chat with other amputees.  You can join here!