Amputation: Below the Knee

What Is Below the Knee Amputation?

Below the knee amputation is the surgical removal of the leg below the knee. Vascular surgeons perform below the knee amputations when a patient’s arteries become hardened (atherosclerosis) due to diabetes or excessive smoking. The procedure is also used when blocked arteries restrict blood supply to the rest of the leg. And amputations have been used following severe accidents or trauma. In any of these cases, amputation is a last resort treatment, but it is sometimes necessary since the alternative could lead to life-threatening complications.

Below the Knee Amputation Procedure

In a below the knee amputation procedure, a skew or posterior flap may be used, depending on the amount of skin damage. The leg is removed some 12-15 cm below the knee joint. There are major healthcare risks involved for the older patient, with 20% experiencing major complications. However, younger patients tend to fare better on average. Patients requiring below the knee amputation are advised to stop smoking and refrain from drinking. Healthcare advice also involves background checks on allergies, medications, and other variables that might adversely affect the outcome.

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Below the Knee Amputation: Healthcare

Healthcare professionals will treat and advise the patient on medical, therapeutic, and psychological problems, post-surgery. After below the knee, patients often have to undergo psychological therapy in addition to physical therapy. It may take six months for the wound to heal completely, and the patient must learn to use a wheelchair until a temporary limb is fitted. Normal activities can be resumed within three months.

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