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What is Involved in a Hand Amputation?

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  • Written By: Alex Tree
  • Edited By: Melissa Wiley
  • Last Modified Date: 12 November 2016
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Hand amputation involves pre-surgery prep, amputating the limb, and recovery. Before the surgery, the patient is prepped by limiting consumption of most foods, beverages, and medications. The hand amputation surgery is performed under anasthesia, after the blood supply is cut off from the hand. Once the patient wakes in a recovery room, he or she is usually eased into life without one hand by a physical therapist. In many cases, prosthetic hands are suggested to the patient to help him or her regain some use of that part of the body and a more natural appearance.

Before the surgery, the patient is usually asked not to consume alcohol, smoke substances, or take over- or under-the-counter medications not approved by the doctor. The patient is also placed on a restricted diet of little or no food and water. These precautions are taken to help ensure a surgery without dangerous complications, like excessive bleeding.

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The actual hand amputation surgery involves a few concrete steps and is generally consistent with the amputation of any other limb. First, the surgeon sews up the arteries and veins leading to the hand to avoid hemorrhaging when the hand is removed. After this step, the surgeon prepares to saw through the bone and sever the hand from the arm completely by addressing the musculature that is in the way. Once the muscle fibers are removed, the surgeon typically uses an oscillating power saw to cut through the bone and then files down the edges to avoid damaging the soon-to-be reattached soft tissues. After the bone is prepared, the skin and tissue are reattached around the stump and sewn closed.

There are different prosthetics for different levels of amputations. The prosthesis recommended after a hand amputation depends heavily upon how much of the hand was amputated. Patients can usually work with a doctor to find the best prosthetic hand for continuing their usual hobbies, sports, or daily routines.

Hand amputation normally takes places when there is no safe cure for something that is wrong with the hand or when the hand is so severely damaged that it is more of a hindrance to regular movements than it is useful. One of the most common specific reasons for amputation in general is spreading necrosis, also known as premature cell death, that cannot safely be stopped. This is often caused by venom, severe infections, and circulatory disorders.

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