Why would this be indicated?
There can be a variety of cases where amputations may be indicated for a patient and these could be due to:
- Severe trauma – wound and/or fracture that cannot be fixed, neurological disease causing a chronic painful limb
- Congenital defects rendering the limb useless
- Incision bruising – this will usually self improve after several days
- Seroma (fluid under the skin) can develop at the site in the initial two-weeks if the patient has been too active at the surgical site – small seromas usually self-resolve, bigger seromas may need to be drained.
- Infection can occur
- Neuroma (nerves at the amputation site can form masses of nerve tissue leading to be pain and additional surgery and pain relief may be needed for management)
- Phantom limb pain
Most patients are discharged between 2-7 days post-operation depending on their level of comfort and ability to walk after surgery.
- Stitches will be present and need to be removed in 10 to 14 days
- An Elizabethan collar is provided to be worn for 10-14 days to discourage licking and biting at the wound.
- Exercise restrictions are recommended while the patient gains strength and co-ordination after the amputation. The patient should be kept strictly indoors initially for at least two days until they are stable enough on the remaining limbs. Do not allow access to stairs or slippery floors. Avoid rigorous activity for the initial 4-weeks and stick to short leashed walks only.
- Sling support can be provided to assist with pet rise and balance initially but ultimately the patient should be able to rise and balance without support.
Prognosis depends on the reason for amputation. Most patients return to a high level of activity following the four-week recovery phase. Ideally, these patients should be kept on the thinner side of normal for the remainder of their life to limit the amount of stress that will be exerted on the remaining limbs.