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Amputation - traumatic

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Traumatic amputation is the loss of a body part -- usually a finger, toe, arm, or leg -- that occurs as the result of an accident or injury.

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Considerations
If an accident or trauma results in complete amputation (the body part is totally severed), the part sometimes can be reattached, especially when proper care is taken of the severed part and stump.

In a partial amputation, some soft-tissue connection remains. Depending on the severity of the injury, the partially severed extremity may or may not be able to be reattached.

There are various complications associated with amputation of a body part. The most important of these are bleeding, shock, and infection. See also: Wounds

The long-term outcome for amputees has improved due to better understanding of the management of traumatic amputation, early emergency and critical care management, new surgical techniques, early rehabilitation, and new prosthetic designs. New limb replantation techniques have been moderately successful, but incomplete nerve regeneration remains a major limiting factor.

Often, the patient will have a better outcome from having a well-fitting, functional prosthesis than a nonfunctional replanted limb.

Causes
Traumatic amputations usually result directly from factory, farm, or power tool accidents or from motor vehicle accidents. Natural disasters, war, and terrorist attacks can also cause traumatic amputations.

When to Contact a Medical Professional
If someone severs a limb, finger, toe, or other body part, you should call immediately for emergency medical help.

Prevention
Use safety equipment when using factory, farm, or power tools. Wear seat belts when driving a motor vehicle. Always use good judgment and observe appropriate safety precautions.

Alternative Names
Loss of a body part

References
Halluska-Handy M. Management of amputations. In: Roberts JR, Hedges JR, eds. Clinical Procedures in Emergency Medicine . 5th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2009:chap 47.

Lyn ET, Mailhot T. Hand. In: Marx JA, ed. Rosen’s Emergency Medicine: Concepts and Clinical Practice . 7th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Mosby Elsevier; 2009:chap 47.

Gross KR, Collier BR, Riordan WP Jr, Morris JA Jr. Wilderness trauma and surgical emergencies. In: Auerbach PS, ed. Wilderness Medicine . 6th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Mosby Elsevier; 2011:chap 21.

Update Date: 8/11/2012
Linda J. Vorvick, MD, Medical Director and Director of Didactic Curriculum, MEDEX Northwest Division of Physician Assistant Studies, Department of Family Medicine, UW Medicine, School of Medicine, University of Washington. C. Benjamin Ma, MD, Assistant Professor, Chief, Sports Medicine and Shoulder Service, UCSF Department of Orthopaedic Surgery. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc.
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