What is Amputation?
An amputation is an operation to remove all or part of a limb due to illness or trauma. For example, a limb may be affecting your health due to a tumor or infection, resulting in severe pain and lack of mobility. Alternatively, you may have suffered a severe injury in a car accident or have cancer. Amputation is a last-resort treatment option.
What are the Complications of Amputation?
Amputations due to any cause have the potential to cause complications, including bleeding, shock, and infection. The risk is higher when an emergency amputation takes place due to trauma. Long-term complications range from heterotopic ossification to phantom neuropathic pain and symptomatic neuromata. For example, heterotopic ossification is the formation of bone in soft tissue where it normally does not exist, affecting motion. Symptomatic neuromata is a very common complication caused by nerve damage, leading to chronic and debilitating pain, often requiring further operations. The outcome of amputation will depend on early emergency and critical care management, a well-fitting and functional prosthesis, and rehabilitation.
What is the Most Common Type of Amputation?
The most common type of amputation is a below-the-knee amputation (BKA). They are typically performed in the middle of the lower leg to spare the knee joint, increasing the chance of a successful prosthesis. However, they will be done at a level that removes all the damaged tissue and allows closure of the skin layer with sufficient soft tissue, which may require a shorter stump in some cases.
When Does a Limb Need to be Amputated after Trauma?
After suffering trauma, for instance, in a car accident, construction accident, or severe fall, an amputation may be necessary if a patient’s life cannot be saved without removing the limb, the limb is crushed to the point that it cannot be repaired, or blood vessels restrict circulation to the affected body part, causing the tissue to die.
What Type of Treatment is Needed after Amputation?
Amputations require a hospital stay of at least five to 14 days or longer, depending on the type of surgery, the patient’s overall health, and whether there are complications. While waiting for the surgical wound to heal, it will be protected with a sterile dressing and may be placed in traction or a splint. The wound will typically take between four to eight weeks to heal, but an artificial limb can be used in some cases in as little as 10 to 14 days. Physical therapy is extremely important and begins very soon after surgery. Recovery does take time, especially due to potential complications and emotional distress.
Who is Liable for an Amputation Injury?
Depending on the cause of your amputation, another party may be liable for your losses. For instance, if your amputation resulted from a car accident caused by another party. In Georgia, injury victims have the right to hold an at-fault driver responsible for current and future medical bills, lost income, property damage, pain and suffering, and more. In another example, if your amputation injury occurred in a construction accident, you would be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. In addition to workers’ comp, if a third party contributed to or caused your accident, you can pursue further compensation in an amputation injury claim. As a result, who is liable will depend on the specific facts unique to your accident.