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Encyclopedia > Amputation
Partial hand amputation

Amputation is the removal of a body extremity by trauma or surgery. As a surgical measure, it is used to control pain or a disease process in the affected limb, such as malignancy or gangrene. In some cases, it is carried out on individuals as a preventative surgery for such problems. A special case is the congenital amputation, a congenital disorder, where foetal limbs have been cut off by constrictive bands. In some countries, amputation of the hands or feet was or is used as a form of punishment for criminals. Amputation has also been used as a tactic in war and acts of terrorism. In some cultures and religions, minor amputations or mutilations are considered a ritual accomplishment. Unlike many non-mammalian animals, (such as lizards which shed their tails), once removed, human extremities do not grow back. A transplant or a prosthesis are the only options for recovering the loss. Image File history File links Amputee. ... Image File history File links Amputee. ... In medicine, a trauma patient has suffered serious and life-threatening physical injury resulting in secondary complications such as shock, respiratory failure and death. ... “Surgeon” redirects here. ... Cancer is a class of diseases or disorders characterized by uncontrolled division of cells and the ability of these to spread, either by direct growth into adjacent tissue through invasion, or by implantation into distant sites by metastasis (where cancer cells are transported through the bloodstream or lymphatic system). ... Gangrene is the necrosis and subsequent decay of body tissues caused by infection or thrombosis. ... Congenital amputation is a congenital disorder caused by fibrous bands of the amnion that constrict foetal limbs to such an extend, that they fall off due to missing blood supply. ... A congenital disorder is any medical condition that is present at birth. ... Foetus can refer to: a fetus, an embryo in later stages of development Foetus, a band fronted by industrial music pioneer J.G. Thirlwell. ... Look up Punishment in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ... lizards are pink and become very aggressive when they see other females. ... “Transplant” redirects here. ... A United States Army soldier plays table football with two prosthetic arms Jon Comer, professional skateboarder with a prosthetic leg. ...



Origins of the word

Amputation is derived from the Latin amputare, to cut away, from amb (about) and putare (to prune). The Latin word has never been recorded in a surgical context, being reserved to indicate punishment for criminals. The English word amputation was first applied to surgery in the 17th century, possibly first in Peter Lowe's A discourse of the Whole Art of Chirurgerie (published in either 1597 or 1612), his work was derived from 16th century French texts and early English writers also used the words "extirpation" (16th century French texts tended to use extirper), "disarticulation," and "dismemberment" (from the Old French desmembrer and a more common term before the 17th century for limb loss or removal), or simply "cutting." but by the end of the 17th century amputation had come to dominate as the accepted medical term.


The history of human amputation can be divided into a number of periods. Initially the many thousands of years when limb loss was the result of trauma or 'nonsurgical' removal. This was followed by the hesitant beginnings of surgical intervention, mainly on gangrenous limbs or those already terribly damaged, which developed through to surgical amputations around the 15th century, the distinction is marked by the choice of the patient and the aim of saving a life and achieving a healed stump, despite the difficulties with infection and the lack of effective control for pain or blood loss. Improvements in surgical techniques were married with better haemorrhage control in the 19th century and in the 1840s with anaesthesia and around twenty years later efficient infection control. The 20th century noted marked improvements in surgical techniques and also a move to increasingly sophisticated prosthetic limbs. Gangrene is the necrosis and subsequent decay of body tissues caused by infection or thrombosis. ... Hemorrhage (alternate spelling is Haemorrhage) is the medical term meaning bleeding. ... Anesthesia (AE), also anaesthesia (BE), is the process of blocking the perception of pain and other sensations. ...


Types of amputation include:

  • leg
    • amputation of digits
    • partial foot amputation (Chopart, Lisfranc)
    • ankle disarticulation (Syme, Pyrogoff)
    • below-knee amputation (transtibial)
    • knee-bearing amputation (knee disarticulation)
    • above knee amputation (transfemoral)
    • Van-ness rotation/rotationplasty (Foot being turned around and reattached to allow the ankle joint to be used as a knee.)
    • hip disarticulation
    • hemipelvectomy
  • arm
    • amputation of digits
    • metacarpal amputation
    • wrist disarticulation
    • forearm amputation (transradial)
    • elbow disarticulation
    • above-elbow amputation (transhumeral)
    • shoulder disarticulation and forequarter amputation
    • Krukenberg procedure
  • teeth
    • The avulsion of some teeth (mainly incisives) is or was practiced by some cultures for ritual purposes (for instance in the Iberomaurusian culture of Neolithic North Africa).

Hemicorporectomy, or amputation at the waist, is the most radical amputation. Diagram of an insect leg A leg is the part of an animals body that supports the rest of the animal above the ground and is used for locomotion. ... A hemipelvectomy is a high level pelvic amputation. ... Look up ARM in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ... -1... Types of teeth Molars are used for grinding up foods Carnassials are used for slicing food. ... An array of Neolithic artifacts, including bracelets, axe heads, chisels, and polishing tools. ...  Northern Africa (UN subregion)  geographic, including above North Africa or Northern Africa is the northernmost region of the African continent, separated by the Sahara from Sub-Saharan Africa. ... In medicine (surgery), hemicorporectomy is an amputation at the waist. ...

Genital modification and mutilation may involve amputating tissue (as the case is with circumcision), although not necessarily as a result of injury or disease. Genital modification and genital mutilation both can refer to permanent or temporary changes to the human genitals. ... This article is about male circumcision. ...

As a rule, partial amputations are preferred to preserve joint function, but in oncological surgery, disarticulation is favored.

Reasons for amputation

  • Cancerous bone tumours (e.g. osteosarcoma, osteochondroma)
  • Severe limb injuries in which the limb cannot be spared or attempts to spare the limb have failed
  • Circulation problems
  • Deformities of digits and/or limbs (e.g. Polydactyly or more than the normal number of fingers and/or toes)
  • Any advanced cancers
  • Gangrene
  • Bone infection (osteomyelitis)
  • Traumatic amputation (Amputation occurs actually at scene of accident, the limb can be partially or wholly severed)
  • Amputation in utero (Amniotic band)
  • Punishment/Torture (e.g in some countries, one or both hands of a person is amputated if they steal)
  • Sometimes professional athletes may choose to have a non-essential digit amputated to relieve chronic pain and impaired performance. Daniel Chick elected to have his left ring finger amputated as chronic pain and injury was limiting his performance.[1] Rugby union player Jone Tawake also had a finger removed.[2]

This article is about the human congenital disorder (disease). ... Daniel Chick (born February 10, 1976) is a professional Australian rules footballer who plays for the West Coast Eagles in the Australian Football League. ... The ring finger is the fourth digit of the human hand, and the second most ulnar finger, located between the middle finger and the little finger. ... For other uses, see Rugby (disambiguation). ... Jone Tawake (born 17 April 1982) , (height 1. ...


Curved knives such as this one were used, in the past, for some kinds of amputations.
Curved knives such as this one were used, in the past, for some kinds of amputations.

The first step is ligating the supplying artery and vein, to prevent hemorrhage. The muscles are transected, and finally the bone is sawed through with an oscillating saw. Skin and muscle flaps are then transposed over the stump, occasionally with the insertion of elements to attach a prosthesis. Download high resolution version (1058x642, 136 KB) Wikipedia does not have an article with this exact name. ... Download high resolution version (1058x642, 136 KB) Wikipedia does not have an article with this exact name. ... In biochemistry, a ligase (from the Latin verb ligāre — to bind or to glue together) is an enzyme that can catalyse the joining of two molecules by forming a new chemical bond, with accompanying hydrolysis of adenosine triphosphate or other similar molecules. ... Section of an artery For other uses, see Artery (disambiguation). ... In the circulatory system, a vein is a blood vessel that carries blood toward the heart. ... To meet Wikipedias quality standards, this article or section may require cleanup. ... This article is about the skeletal organs. ... Oscillation is the periodic variation, typically in time, of some measure as seen, for example, in a swinging pendulum. ... Portable saw A saw is a tool for cutting wood or other material, consisting of a serrated blade (a blade with the cutting edge dentated or toothed) and worked either by hand or by steam, water, electric or other power. ... A United States Army soldier plays table football with two prosthetic arms Jon Comer, professional skateboarder with a prosthetic leg. ...


In some rare cases when a person has become trapped in a deserted place, with no means of communication or hope of rescue, the victim has amputated his own limb:

  • In 2007, 66-year old Al Hill amputated his leg below the knee using his pocketknife after the leg got stuck beneath a felled tree he was cutting in California. [1]
  • In 2003, 27-year old Aron Ralston amputated his forearm using his pocketknife and breaking and tearing the two bones, after the arm got stuck under a boulder when hiking in Utah.
  • Also in 2003, an Australian coal miner amputated his own arm with a Stanley knife after it became trapped when the front-end loader he was driving overturned three kilometers underground. [2]
  • In the 1990s, a crab fisherman got his arm caught in the winch during a storm and had to amputate it at the shoulder, as reported in The New Englander.

Even rarer are cases where self-amputation is performed for criminal or political purposes: Official language(s) English Capital Sacramento Largest city Los Angeles Largest metro area Greater Los Angeles Area  Ranked 3rd  - Total 158,302 sq mi (410,000 km²)  - Width 250 miles (400 km)  - Length 770 miles (1,240 km)  - % water 4. ... Aron Lee Ralston (born October 27, 1975) is an American mountain climber who became famous in May 2003 when he was forced to amputate his lower right arm with a low-quality multitool (a dull knife) in order to free himself after his arm became trapped by a boulder. ... // The Human Forearm The forearm is the structure on the upper limb, between the elbow and the wrist. ... A pocket knife is a type of folding knife with a blade that fits inside the handle. ... This article is about the skeletal organs. ... This article is about the U.S. state. ... Segmented blade type Disassembled, blade partly retracted Utility knife A utility knife is a common tool used in various trades and crafts for a variety of purposes. ... A loader clearing a landslide. ...

  • Documentary filmmaker Errol Morris was ordered to "leave town within twenty-four hours or leave in a casket" by the unnamed "king of the nubbies" of the town of Vernon, Florida (which Morris called "Nub City"), when he was researching a documentary about a bizarre scam wherein individuals would cut off their own limbs as a way to collect insurance money.[3] The final version of Vernon, Florida contains no references to this scam.
  • On March 7, 1998, Daniel Rudolph, the elder brother of the 1996 Olympics bomber Eric Robert Rudolph, videotaped himself cutting off one of his own hands with an electric saw in order to "send a message to the FBI and the media." [4]

Body Integrity Identity Disorder is a psychological condition in which an individual feels compelled to remove one or more of their body parts, usually a limb. In some cases, that individual may take drastic measures to remove the offending appendages, either by causing irreparable damage to the limb so that medical intervention can not save the limb, or by causing the limb to be severed. Errol Morris Errol Morris (born February 5, 1948) is an American Academy Award winning documentary film director. ... Vernon is a city located in Washington County, Florida. ... Vernon, Florida is a 1981 documentary film produced and directed by Errol Morris profiling various eccentric residents living within the town of Vernon, Florida. ... is the 66th day of the year (67th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... Year 1998 (MCMXCVIII) was a common year starting on Thursday (link will display full 1998 Gregorian calendar). ... The Centennial Olympic Park bombing was a terrorist bombing on July 27, 1996 in Atlanta, Georgia during the 1996 Summer Olympics, the first of four committed by Eric Robert Rudolph. ... Eric Robert Rudolph (born September 19, 1966), also known as the Olympic Park Bomber, is an American anti-abortion and anti-gay extremist and domestic terrorist,[2][3] who committed a series of bombings across the southern United States, which killed three people and injured at least 150 others. ... This article or section does not cite any references or sources. ...


A large proportion of amputees (50-80%) experience the phenomenon of phantom limbs;[3] they feel body parts that are no longer there. These limbs can itch, ache, and feel as if they are moving. Some scientists believe it has to do with a kind of neural map that the brain has of the body, which sends information to the rest of the brain about limbs regardless of their existence. Phantom sensations and phantom pain may also occur after the removal of body parts other than the limbs, e.g. after amputation of the breast, extraction of a tooth (phantom tooth pain) or removal of an eye (phantom eye syndrome). A similar phenomenon is unexplained sensation in a body part unrelated to the amputated limb. It has been hypothesized that the portion of the brain responsible for processing stimulation from amputated limbs, being deprived of input, actually expands into the surrounding brain, such that an individual who has had an arm amputated will experience unexplained pressure or movement on their face or head. The individual may also experience some trauma as well as emotional discomfort. This article is about the syndrome. ... The phantom eye syndrome refers to phantom phenomena, such as phantom pain in the eye and visual hallucinations, after the removal of an eye (enucleation, evisceration). ...

In many cases, the phantom limb aids in adaptation to a prosthesis, as it permits the person to experience proprioception of the prosthetic limb. // Proprioception (PRO-pree-o-SEP-shun (IPA pronunciation: ); from Latin proprius, meaning ones own and perception) is the sense of the relative position of neighbouring parts of the body. ...

Another side-effect can be heterotopic ossification, especially when a bone injury is combined with a head injury. The brain signals the bone to grow instead of scar tissue to form, and nodules and other growth can interfere with prosthetics and sometimes require further operations. This type of injury has been especially common among soldiers wounded by improvised explosive devices in the Iraq war. [5] Wikipedia does not have an article with this exact name. ... Munitions rigged for an IED discovered by Iraqi police in Baghdad, November 2005. ... For other uses, see Iraq war (disambiguation). ...

Notable amputees

  • Terry Fox - a well-known amputee
  • Kellie Lim - triple amputee who made the news graduating medical school
  • Bethany Hamilton - well known amputee surfer. She is known for losing her arm to a shark attack

For the baseball player, see Terry Fox (baseball). ... Kellie Lim is a triple amputee due to bacterial meningitis at age 8, who went on to graduate near the top of her class at UCLA medical school in 2007. ... Bethany Hamilton Bethany Meilani Hamilton (born February 8, 1990) is an American surfer. ... For the film, see Shark Attack (film). ...

See also

A tourniquet can be defined as a constricting or compressing device used to control venous and arterial circulation to an extremity for a period of time. ... Apotemnophilia (from Greek αποτέμνειν to cut off) or BIID is the overwhelming desire to amputate one or more healthy limbs. ... Amputee fetishism is one of the paraphilias grouped together as attraction to disability. ... Autotomy (from the Greek auto = self- and tomy = severing) or self amputation is the act whereby an animal severs one of its own appendages, usually as a self-defence mechanism designed to elude a predators grasp. ... This article is about the disease that features high blood sugar. ... Amputee Soccer Championship, Central America One of the tragic legacies of conflicts in Central America in the decade of the 1980s was a large number of unmapped land mines, especially along the Nicaraguan-El Salvadorian border. ...


  1. ^ RTE: Aussie Rules star has finger removed
  2. ^ SportsAustralia.com: Tawake undergoes surgery to remove finger
  3. ^ Heidi Schultz (January 2005). "Phantom Input". National Geographic Magazine. 

External links

  • Amputee Social Community
  • Amputation from Cooper's 1835 "Practice of Surgery"
  • The amputee website from the UMC St Radboud Amputee Team
  • OandPCare.org provide information for amputees, their families, the media and the general public on prosthetic care for amputees.
  • amputee website Life goes on as an amputee. Help for amputees and their families.
  • Planet Terror Film featuring a main character who loses her leg.

  Results from FactBites:
VascularWeb: Amputation (1797 words)
When performing an amputation, a surgeon removes a limb, or part of a limb, that is no longer useful to you and is causing you great pain, or threatens your health because of extensive infection.
Although amputations may be required for other reasons, such as severe injury or the presence of a tumor, the most common reason you may need an amputation is if you have peripheral arterial disease (PAD) due to atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries).
PAD is the leading cause of amputation in people age 50 and older, and accounts for up to 90 percent of amputations overall.
Amputation (451 words)
Amputation is an acquired condition that results in the loss of a limb, usually from injury, disease, or surgery.
In the US, 82 percent of amputations are due to vascular disease, 22 percent to trauma, 4 percent are congenital, and 4 percent are due to tumors.
The goal of rehabilitation after an amputation is to help the patient return to the highest level of function and independence possible, while improving the overall quality of life - physically, emotionally, and socially.
  More results at FactBites »



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