Above Knee Amputation Surgery
Amputations are carried out either under general anaesthesia, for larger and upper limb amputations, or epidural anaesthesia for smaller lower body amputations. Once the limb has been amputated, steps are taken to make sure the stump heals as well as possible and is suited for a prosthetic limb. Myodesis, the process of stitching the remaining muscles to the bones, strengthens the remainder of the limb, and the bone may be shortened and smoothened so that it is padded out by sufficient muscle and tissue.
After the procedure, the opening will be stitched or stapled together, and a tube implanted to drain fluids if necessary. You may spend a few days in recovery on drips and with an oxygen mask, to help your body recover from the shock, especially if you have undergone a larger amputation. You will receive oral or intravenous painkillers. Sometimes, a local anaesthetic is delivered to the nerves at the site via a narrow tube.
Removal of a limb partially or completely by a surgery or loss due to a trauma is called an Amputation. This mutilating surgery is done as the last resort to save an individuals life or reduce the pain. In some individuals like smokers, the blood supply to the legs decreases and sometimes become gangrenous leading to amputation. In uncontrolled Diabetes, a trivial injury to the toes like a nail clipper injury could lead to spreading infection and amputation is considered as a life-saving procedure.
Once your wound is healed, you will be given a compression garment which helps with swelling due to edema (fluid retention) at the site, and also provides support and shape. A physiotherapist will teach you exercises to prevent blood clots and to strengthen your muscles so that you’re better able to cope with the loss of a limb.
Your physical rehabilitation will be tailored to you, your amputation and your needs. As soon as possible, you will be encouraged to move around, and practice techniques to help you do so easily. Your stump and remaining limb will need a lot of care, so listen carefully to all instructions given by your doctors!
You may be introduced to a prosthetist, who can advise you on the different types of prosthetic limbs and other available devices, and which one would best suit you. There are many resources online for support and encouragement from others like you. For example, the Amputee Association of India encourages support groups, workshops and so on. You can also meet others on online forums.
The loss of a limb can come with severe psychological impact, including feeling of being bereaved and phantom limb pain. The most important thing is not to despair, and to stay positive and optimistic. Think of Shalini Saraswathi, a quadruple amputee, who ran the TCS World 10K in Bangalore with prosthetic running blades! Really - you can do anything.