Amputation: Upper Knee

What Is Upper Knee Amputation?

Upper knee amputation is the surgical removal of the leg from a point above the knee. Vascular surgeons perform upper knee amputations when a patient’s arteries become hardened (atherosclerosis) due to diabetes or smoking, when blocked arteries restrict blood supply to the limb, when inoperable tumors develop in the region, or when a serious accident warrants such removal. Upper knee amputation is a specific surgical procedure performed on the leg when the hardened arteries cause gangrene to develop, or there is severe and constant pain. If left untreated, life-threatening infections may occur. However, this procedure will only be performed as a last resort or when a below-the-knee procedure is not a viable option.

Upper Knee Amputation Procedure

In an upper knee amputation procedure, the leg is removed some 12-15cms above the knee joint. The thigh (femur) muscle provides padding and the skin is stitched closed over the bone. There are major healthcare risks involved for the older patient, but four out of five do well, while the risk to younger patients is considerably less. Patients requiring upper knee surgery are advised to stop smoking. Healthcare advice also involves checks on weight reduction, blood pressure, heart and lung function, medical history, medication, and allergies.

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Upper Knee Amputation: Healthcare

Healthcare professionals will treat and advise the patient on medical, therapeutic and psychological problems, post-surgery. After upper knee amputation, the patient needs a period of time to deal with the loss of a significant part of the leg. Stitches are removed after two weeks. 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, although the patient might experience phantom limb phenomenon for several years.

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