You may have seen and also wondered what happened to people who have a missing limb or limbs as you walk daily on your street, in the metropolis, on the bus and you know, all around you.
While some are destitute, others beg for alms and on some occasions, are usually cramped up together within the same vicinity.
But what could be the reason why they miss one limb or even more than one limb at times. Was it due to an accident, or due to a deformity, or was it a deliberate act at making a living out of alms? Well, whatever it is, amputation could be the last resort at life-saving, as the affected limb or limbs as the case may be could either be dead, dangerous or as usually said, utterly damn useless.
An amputation refers to the surgical removal of all or part of a limb such as an arm, leg, foot, hand, or finger.
It is one of the commonest orthopedic procedures requested for and done worldwide, with lower-limb amputations commonly done than upper extremity amputation.
There are many reasons for leg amputation. The commonest indication is poor circulation to the affected limb due to damage or narrowing of the supplying arteries, in a condition called peripheral arterial disease. As such, if blood flow ain’t adequate, the body’s cells cannot get the essential oxygen and nutrients they need and as a result, the affected tissue would begin to die and eventually end up infected.
Other reasons why amputation is important are:
- Secondary to severe injury from a vehicle accident or serious burns (Dead)
- The cancerous tumor in the bone or muscle of the limb (Dangerous, as it could metastasize)
- A serious infection that does not get better with treatments (dead)
- A Neuroma, which is the thickening of nerve tissue
- Frostbite (exposure to extreme cold temperatures).
Before the amputation is done, the patient would be admitted for some days and tests done to ensure he or she is fit for the surgery. Then the surgeon would take him or her through the procedure, and also inform him or her about the complications of the procedure. If consent is then done, a theatre session is booked for the procedure to be done in earnest.
Before the procedure begins, the patient is anesthetized, either general or regional, and then during the procedure, the surgeon will proceed to:
- Removing the diseased tissue, crushed bones, and all other contaminants
- Smoothen uneven areas of bone and fix tissues
- Repair and seal off neurovascular supply around the area
- Stumping, which is the cutting and shaping of muscles so that the end of the limb called a stump, will be able to have an artificial limb or prosthesis attached to it.
The surgeon may want to secure the wound right away by fastening the skin flaps, called a closed amputation, Or he or she may decide to leave the site open for several days in case there’s a need to remove additional tissue. A sterile dressing is then placed on the wound and also stocking over the stump to help hold drainage tubes or bandages. The limb may also be placed in traction, in which a device holds it in position, or may use a splint.
Recovering after an amputation depends on the type of procedure and anesthesia used.
The nursing staff gets to change the dressings on the wound daily and or teaches the patient how to change them. The surgical team also monitors wound healing and any conditions that might interfere with healing, such as diabetes or hardening of the arteries. The doctor prescribes medications to ease pain and help prevent infection. If the patient has problems with phantom pain (a sense of pain in the amputated limb) or grief over the lost limb, the doctor will prescribe medication and/or counseling, as necessary.
Physical therapy as well commences as psychological therapy to go the patient in the immediate post-amputation period.