Amputation is the removal of a body extremity by trauma or surgery. As a surgical measure, it is used to control pain or a disease process in the affected limb, such as malignancy or gangrene. In some cases, it is carried out on individuals as a preventative surgery for such problems. A special case is the congenital amputation, a congenital disorder, where constrictive bands have cut off foetal limbs. In some countries, amputation of the hands or feet is or was used as a form of punishment for people who committed crimes. Amputation has also been used as a tactic in war and acts of terrorism. In some cultures and religions, minor amputations or mutilations are considered a ritual accomplishment. Unlike many non-mammalian animals such as lizards that shed their tails, once removed, human extremities do not grow back. A transplant or prosthesis is the only option for recovering the loss.
Reasons for amputation
- Diabetic foot infection or gangrene (the most common reason for non-traumatic amputation)
- Cancerous bone or soft tissue tumors
- Severe limb injuries in which the limb cannot be spared or attempts to spare the limb have failed
- Circulation problems
- Deformities of digits and/or limbs
- Extra digits and/or limbs
- Any advanced cancers
- Bone infection
- Traumatic amputation (Amputation occurs actually at scene of accident, the limb can be partially or wholly severed)
- Amputation in utero
Sometimes professional athletes may choose to have a non-essential digit amputated to relieve chronic pain and impaired performance. Daniel Chick elected to have his left ring finger amputated as chronic pain and injury was limiting his performance. Rugby union player Jone Tawake also had a finger removed.