Traumatic Amputations

Every year, about 30,000 people in the United States lose part of their body to accidental amputation. In fact, one percent of all trauma attendances are amputation injuries, nearly 70 percent of which involve the finger and thumb. While an amputation can happen to anyone, 80 percent of victims are males between the ages of 15 and 40.

Amputations are either complete or partial. In a complete amputation, there are no tissues, ligaments, muscles, or other anatomy connecting the severed part to the body. In a partial amputation, an anatomical structure, such as a ligament, tendon, or muscle is still intact between the body and the amputated anatomy.

Amputations can involve proximal or distal anatomy. A proximal amputation involves anatomy that is attached closely to the body’s core, such as an entire arm at the shoulder joint or a leg at the hip joint. Fingers or toes, which are distant from the core of the body, are known as distal amputations and are more common than proximal amputations.

Whether replantation surgery is indicated depends on various factors, primarily the patient’s overall condition, how long the body part has been detached and how it is preserved. It is important to ensure that an experienced and specialized microvascular surgeon is able to evaluate and treat the patient, who is often also suffering from other serious injuries due to the nature of traumatic amputation. However, the goal of replantation or re-attachment surgery following traumatic amputation is always successful restoration of function.

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