Types of amputation

Amputation refers to the removal of a limb or part thereof. Usually amputation is a surgical measure used to control pain or disease process in the affected limb such as infection, though in some cases an amputation is carried out on individuals as preventative surgery. Amputation should only be considered if the limb is non-viable or non-functional.

Appropriate amputation surgery can successfully remove a dysfunctional or painful limb and can reduce further threat to health, for example from gangrene, ischemia or infection. In many cases it can also allow effective rehabilitation using a prosthetic limb in order to restore function.

Different types of amputation

Upper limb amputations

Upper limb amputations range from removal of part of a finger to removal of the entire arm and part of the shoulder.

Partial hand amputation
For example, removal of fingertips and other parts of the fingers

Metacarpal amputation
Removal of the entire hand but excluding the wrist

Wrist disarticulation
Removal of the hand and the wrist joint

Below elbow amputation – transradial
Partial removal of the forearm below the elbow joint

Elbow disarticulation
Removal of the entirety of the forearm at the elbow

Above elbow amputation – transhumeral
Removal of the arm above the elbow

Shoulder disarticulation/forequarter amputation
Removal of the entire arm including the shoulder blade and collarbone

Lower limb amputations

Lower limb amputations can range from removal of a single toe to the removal of the entire leg and part of the pelvis.

Partial foot amputation
The removal of one or more toes

Ankle disarticulation
Amputation of the foot at the ankle

Below knee amputation – transtibial
Amputation of the leg below the knee but retaining the knee joint

Through the knee amputations/knee disarticulation
Removal of the lower leg and knee joint

Above knee amputation – transfemoral
Amputation of the leg above the knee joint

Hip disarticulation
Removal of the entire limb up to and including the femur

Hemipelvectomy – transpelvic
The removal of the entire limb and partial removal of the pelvis

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