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What tissues do surgeons cut through during an amputation?

A surgeon must cut through numerous types of body tissue during an amputation. They include:

Skin: When cutting through the skin,the surgeon must be sure the resulting scar will not rub up against the connection socket for the prosthetic limb.

Muscle: The majority of tissue that a surgeon slices through during an amputation is muscle. Great care is used to arrange and shape remaining muscle tissue. This muscle is important to provide padding around the bone following the surgery. The padding plays a vital role in maintaining a healthy stump and it is equally critical when the time comes to fit the patient's prosthetic limb.

Nerves: Once the nerves are cut, the surgeons must be especially careful in how they deal with nerve stumps that remain. Those nerve stumps continue to carry sensory signals - including feelings of pain. To minimize pain stemming from those nerve endings, surgeons cut the nerves higher than the amputation site. Then, surgeons stitch the nerve endings into surrounding tissues. This action helps avoid regeneration of the nerve endings into neuroma, which causes pain to the patient. To keep pain to a minimum, doctors isolate the nerve endings from any areas involved with motion.

Blood vessels: Surgeons tie off the cut blood vessels, to firmly control blood flow. They do not want to damage blood vessels that supply the remaining healthy tissue. Maintaining blood flow is critical in order to keep tissue healthy.

Bones: After cutting through bones, surgeons smooth any sharp edges to avoid pain and to ensure the bone does not rub on the surrounding tissues. Surgeons also consider issues of bone healing, including the interface of the remaining bone and the prosthetic limb.

The prosthetic is individually tailored to the amputee's residual limb. Great care is taken on designing the socket that provides the interface between the patient and the prosthetic. The socket can be continually resized as needed to accommodate changes in the shape of the residual limb.

Continue Learning about Amputation as a Physical Disability

Amputation as a Physical Disability

The National Library of Medicine defines an amputee as a person who as lost a limb, an arm or a leg. While other amputations (such as breast) are done, they are considered differently. The most common reason for amputation is not ...

injury, but peripheral artery disease. Other reasons include cancer or an extremely severe infection that is not responding. Amputees may have phantom pain which is pain that seems to be in the limb that is missing. This often goes away after a period of weeks to months. Part of rehabilitation after an amputation may be fitting with an artificial or prosthetic limb and training in how to use it. Amputees are encouraged to exercise, and special prosthetics have been developed to help golf swings or enable skiing.
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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.