An above-the-knee amputation (AKA) is the surgical removal of the leg above the knee.
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An amputation above the knee may be done because of:
Problems from the procedure are rare, but all procedures have some risk. Your doctor will review potential problems, like:
Before your procedure, talk to your doctor about ways to manage factors that may increase your risk of complications, such as:
Your doctor may do the following before your procedure:
Before surgery, you will need to:
Talk to the doctor about the medications you are taking. You may need to stop taking some medications up to 1 week before the procedure.
Do not eat or drink anything after midnight the day before your surgery, unless told otherwise by your doctor.
You may be given:
An incision will be made in the skin above the knee. Next, the muscles will be divided and the blood vessels clamped. A special saw is used to cut through the bone. The muscles are then sewn and shaped so that a stump is formed to cushion the bone. Nerves are divided and placed so they do not cause pain. The skin is closed over the muscles, forming the stump. Drains may be inserted into the stump to drain blood for the first few days after surgery. A dressing and compression stocking will be placed over the stump.
Several hours, depending on your health and the reason for the surgery.
Anesthesia will prevent pain during surgery. Pain and discomfort after the procedure can be managed with medications.
The usual length of stay is 5-14 days. It is possible that you may have to stay longer if complications arise. You may also go to a rehabilitation hospital to help you recover.
Right after the procedure, you will be in a recovery room where your blood pressure, pulse, and breathing will be monitored. Recovery may also include:
Physical therapy often starts within 24 hours after your surgery. During this time you may need devices to help you walk.
During your stay, the hospital staff will take steps to reduce your chance of infection, such as:
There are also steps you can take to reduce your chance of infection, such as:
When you return home, you will continue with physical therapy and exercise. You will be instructed on how to care for the residual limb. Medications may be prescribed to manage pain.
Adjusting to an amputation may be difficult and can lead to depression. Consider talking to a therapist or psychologist.
Contact your doctor if your recovery is not progressing as expected or you develop complications, such as:
If you think you have an emergency, call for emergency medical services right away.
American Diabetes Association
Ortho Info—American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons
Canadian Diabetes Association
The Canadian Orthopaedic Association
Amputation. John Hopkins Medicine website. Available at: http://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/healthlibrary/conditions/adult/physical_medicine_and_rehabilitation/amputation_85,P01141. Accessed December 4, 2014.
Amputation. Society for Vascular Surgery website. Available at: http://www.vascularweb.org/vascularhealth/Pages/amputation.aspx. Updated February 2011. Accessed December 4, 2014.
Amputation procedure. John Hopkins Medicine website. Available at: http://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/healthlibrary/test_procedures/cardiovascular/amputation_procedure_92,P08292. Accessed December 4, 2014.
Management of critical limb ischemia. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at:: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated July 16, 2014. Accessed December 4, 2014.
Last reviewed November 2015 by Donald Buck, MD Last Updated: 12/20/2014