Overview of Amputations
An amputation is the removal of all or a portion of a body part that is
enclosed in skin. An amputation can occur at an accident site such as
at the scene of an auto accident, or it can occur at the scene of an animal
attack, or it can occur in battle (from a gunshot or an explosion). Amputation
can also be a strategically planned surgical procedure. There are two
reasons for amputations: severe injury or disease.
Injury and Disease-Related Amputations
In some cases severe injuries or disease can damage parts of the body to
the extent that the body is unable to repair or heal the affected body
part. The problem is that when human tissue dies, infection can set in,
thus causing life-threatening conditions such as gangrene. The infection
site provides a friendly environment for the dangerous bacteria to spread
to other parts of the body.
Dead tissue leads to infection and the cause of tissue death is the lack
of blood flow in the diseased or injured body part. When either disease
or injuries damage the blood vessels extensively, the tissues that are
supplied by those blood vessels die, and from there dangerous infection
can take over. Once it's determined that the damaged or infected tissue
is beyond repair and cannot be restored, then the surgeon may decide that
amputation is necessary in order to protect the rest of the victim's
body from the spread of infection.
Amputations can be performed on a number of different parts of the body.
In general an amputation is performed on a portion of an arm or leg, in
which case they are referred to as upper extremity or lower extremity
amputations accordingly. While someone may lose a portion of their finger
or a single toe, the most severe amputation cases may require that as
much as the entire lower body is removed from the hips downward.
Causes of Amputation Injuries
Amputations are the result of either traumatic injuries or disease. A variety
of different diseases can destroy human tissue to the extent that amputation
is required. Such diseases may include Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD),
Diabetes, and Cancer among others. Accidents also frequently lead to amputations
and these include but are not limited to the following:
According to the National Limb Loss Information Center (NLLIC), there are
nearly 2 million people living with an amputation in the United States,
and approximately 185,000 amputations occur each year. The NLLIC reports
that in 2009, hospital costs associated with amputations totaled more
than $8 billion dollars.
The History of Amputations
Archeological findings have revealed that amputations have been performed
since ancient times; however, the earliest amputations were mainly performed
to remove dead tissue. Early amputations were rather limited because the
early surgical techniques couldn't control blood loss or hemorrhaging,
which occurs when healthy arteries are cut. By 1674 the tourniquet was
invented, which enabled the surgeons to better control blood flow during
the procedure, and perhaps one of the most appreciated inventions was
anesthesia in the 1840's. Of course, these developments were put into
use during the American Civil War where more than 50,000 amputation surgeries
were performed, which subsequently saved thousands of soldiers' lives.
Although amputation is sometimes a highly necessary surgery, it still remains
a major surgery. Patients are at risk due to anesthesia, along with the
possibility of experiencing heavy blood loss and developing blood clots,
not to mention the high risk of infection. If the stump becomes infected,
it may become necessary to amputate a second time and at a higher level.
Once the surgery has been performed, failure of the stump to heal properly
is another major cause for concern since non-healing can be caused by
an inadequate blood supply. However, centers that specialize in amputation
tend to have the lowest complication rates and this is encouraging.
Long Beach Amputation Attorneys
At McGee, Lerer & Associates, we are a husband and wife team with over
35 years of combined experience. 100% of our practice is devoted to representing
injury victims and their family members. We don't spread ourselves
thin by handling criminal defense and family law matters; we focus strictly
on helping those that have been wrongfully injured.
At our firm, you will enjoy personalized service from attorneys Daniel
McGee or Catherine Lerer directly, not their voicemail and not a secretary
or receptionist. Amputations are some of the most catastrophic and life-threatening
injuries that anyone can sustain due to their high risk of infection.
If you or someone you love has lost a limb or body part as a result of
a preventable accident, then we urge you to
contact our firm immediately to schedule a free consultation. We care about your family,
let us take care of yours.