What is an amputation?

Amputation referes to the removal of part (partial) or entire (full) leg. Partial amputation is performed when part of the limb is left attached to the rest of the body as a stump and prosthetic devices (artificial leg) can be attached to. 

The full amputation is performed by removing the entire leg with the scapula (shoulder blade) for the front limb and entire femur for the hind leg and a smooth well-padded amputation site is created to prevent pressure sores.

Which type amputation is often recommended?

The most common type of amputation performed is the full amputation, to prevent the stump to be traumatized during normal activities and minimize the care and attention required to manage the remaining part of the limb. 

When is partial amputation with prosthetic needed?

Partial limb amputations with artificial limb are performed in animals with concurrent problems such as obesity and generalized arthritis that would limits the pet to walk on 3 legs. Once the artificial limb is used, diligent care is needed to manage the stump. Financial consideration should be evaluated, because multiple prosthetics are needed overtime.  The goal is to prevent pressure sores from bone prominence 

When is, the amputation recommended?

Most commonly amputation is recommended when the leg is severely traumatized, fractured, infected, deformed since birth or secondary to an old fracture. A painful, useless limb should be amputated.

What is the post op recovery from an amputation?

Post operatively, exercise restriction should be implemented for 2 weeks to prevent any complications associated with the surgical site. Leash and sling walks are recommended for 2 weeks until the patient regains full coordination.

What are the complications from an amputation?

Complications associated with amputation include bruising, swelling, infections, bleeding and accumulation of inflammatory fluid under the surgical site (seroma). Neuromas (inflammation of the nerve ending) are rarely seen and are the reason for continuous pain post operatively. Phantom pain is not seen in veterinary patients and should not be of any concerns.

What is the prognosis with amputation? 

The prognosis for patients that received an amputation is excellent with return to near normal function. Gait change might be seen during the adaptation process and fear of an amputation should not limit an owner to make the right decision for his or her pet. Amputation procedures could save the patient life and improve his or her quality of life.