Amputation is the loss or breakage of a body part, such as a finger, arm, or leg. Amputation can occur as a result of an injury, or it can be part of a surgical excision of certain body parts to treat a condition or disease.

Amputation due to injury can be partial (partial) or complete (total). Partial amputation means that there is still some or some soft tissue connected so that the patient's body part is not completely cut off. Meanwhile, in total amputation, the patient's body is completely cut off.

In both partial and total amputations, the possibility of the severed body part being reattached or not, depends on the severity of the injury. If the severed body part cannot be reattached, the patient will be advised to use  a prosthetic leg or arm  (prosthesis).

The term amputation is also used for the procedure of cutting off a body part to prevent a more dangerous condition. These dangerous conditions include the spread of infection, rotting wounds ( gangrene ), and cancer.

Causes of Amputation

Amputations can occur as a result of unintentional severe injuries, or they can be planned by doctors to treat a number of ailments. Here is the explanation:

Amputation due to injury

Amputations caused by injuries can occur due to a number of conditions:

  • Natural disasters, for example being hit by the rubble of a building during an earthquake
  • Accidents due to work involving heavy machinery or equipment
  • Motor vehicle accident
  • Beast attack
  • Severe burns
  • Gunshot wounds

Amputation due to illness

Many diseases can make a person have to undergo an amputation procedure, including:

  • Nerve tissue thickening (neuroma)
  • Frostbite or injury from exposure to extreme cold
  • Severe infections in the arms or legs, eg bone infection ( osteomyelitis ) or severe necrotising fasciitis
  • Cancer, such as osteosarcoma or cancer that has spread to the bones, muscles, nerves, and blood vessels
  • Gangrene, eg due  to peripheral arterial disease or diabetic neuropathy

Amputation Symptoms

Symptoms of amputation that can be experienced, especially in amputations due to injury, include:

  • Pain, which is not always proportional to the severity of the injury or bleeding
  • Bleeding, the severity of which depends on the location and type of injury
  • Body tissue is damaged, but some tissues are still connected to muscles, bones, joints, and skin, or are completely cut off

When to go to the doctor

Immediately seek medical attention to a doctor if you experience an amputation due to an injury. Although the severed organs may not necessarily be reattached, amputation wounds can cause heavy bleeding and infection. Patients can also experience death if not immediately treated.

Get regular check-ups with your doctor if you have an illness that could lead to an amputation if not treated properly, such as diabetes or peripheral artery disease.

For those of you who have undergone an amputation procedure, check with your doctor regularly. In addition to undergoing rehabilitation therapy to improve your ability to carry out activities, regular check-ups to the doctor also aim to prevent and detect complications that may arise after amputation.

Call your doctor immediately if you experience any of the following symptoms after undergoing an amputation procedure:

  • Stitches in the open amputation area
  • Fever or chills
  • Pain in the amputation area or its surroundings
  • Swelling, redness, or bleeding at the amputation area
  • Discharge of fluid, blood, or pus from the amputation area

Amputation Diagnosis

The diagnosis of amputation begins with questions and answers regarding how the amputation occurred, history of injury, and history of other diseases or conditions. Usually, doctors can immediately diagnose an amputation with a direct physical examination of the severed organ.

Sometimes, doctors need to take X-rays to check the condition of the bones and tissues around the amputation site. Doctors can also perform supporting examinations in the form of blood tests , including blood sugar tests to detect diabetes.

Amputation Treatment

Amputation treatment must be done in a hospital. If a recent amputation is performed and there is heavy bleeding, the doctor will first stop the bleeding. After that, the doctor will give fluid infusions and blood transfusions to stabilize the patient's condition.

In some cases, the severed body part can be reattached by a replantation procedure. Replantation is performed when the body part to be reassembled is not badly damaged and is expected to function properly after the replantation.

If the two factors above are not met, then replantation will not be carried out. For patients who cannot undergo replantation, the doctor will recommend the use of a prosthesis. In some cases, the prosthesis can replace the function of the missing body part properly.

Recovery after amputation

Permanent loss of limbs due to amputation can reduce self-confidence and reduce the patient's ability to carry out activities. To overcome this problem, the doctor will recommend the patient undergo regular physical rehabilitation.

The rehabilitation carried out includes:

  • Exercises to increase muscle strength
  • Exercises to improve limb skills, so that patients can carry out activities independently
  • Treatment and care to support recovery and relieve pain that appears in the amputation area
  • Psychological therapy to overcome emotional disturbances that may be experienced by patients due to organ loss
  • Use of assistive devices, such as wheelchairs and crutches

Amputation Complications

There are several complications that may occur after amputation, namely:

  • Painful
  • Bleeding
  • Swelling (edema)
  • Infection
  • Joints, muscles, and tendons around the missing organs become stiff and difficult to move
  • Phantom limb , which is a painful sensation that appears in the missing body organ
  • Mental disorders, such as  post-traumatic stress disorder ( PTSD ), irritability, depression, and suicidal thoughts
  • Deep vein thrombosis (DVT)
  • Heart attack
  • Pneumonia
  • Shock

Amputation Prevention

Amputation due to injury usually occurs suddenly and unexpectedly so it is difficult to prevent. Meanwhile, efforts that can be made to avoid amputation due to disease is to prevent the occurrence of the disease.

For example, amputations due to peripheral artery disease and diabetes can be prevented by quitting smoking, eating a healthy and balanced diet, and exercising regularly.

Some other ways that can be done to avoid amputation are:

  • Prevent  ulcers on your feet if you have diabetes, as ulcers can increase the risk of amputation.
  • Use personal protective equipment, both while driving and working, especially if your job involves the use of heavy equipment.
  • Always be careful and obey traffic signs when driving to avoid accidents.
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