(Amputation, Below-the-Knee; BKA)
by Patricia Griffin Kellicker, BSN
This is the surgical removal of the leg below the knee.
Possible Complications TOP
Your doctor will review the possible complications. These may include:
Factors that may increase your risk of complications include:
Talk to your doctor about these risks before surgery.
What to Expect TOP
Prior to Procedure
If your surgery is planned, your doctor will review the surgery and what to expect. He will talk to you about how you are going to move after surgery. You may need a prosthesis (artificial limb), walker, crutches, wheelchair, or a combination of these.
At your appointment before your surgery, your doctor may:
You should ask your doctor questions like:
Before surgery, you may:
General anesthesia or regional anesthesia will be used. General anesthesia will block pain and keep you asleep during surgery. It is given through an IV. Regional anesthesia will numb your leg and the surrounding area. You may also receive IV sedation.
Description of Procedure
After you are asleep and no longer feeling pain, a breathing tube will be placed in a patient having general anesthesia. The doctor will make a cut in the skin below the knee. The muscles will be separated and blood vessels clamped. A special saw will be used to cut through the bone. The muscles will be sewn and shaped so that a stump is formed to cushion the bone. Nerves will be separated and placed so that they do not cause pain. Blood vessels will be tied off. The skin will be closed over the muscles, forming the stump. Drains may be inserted into the stump to drain blood for the first few days. A dressing and compression stocking will be placed over the stump.
Immediately After Procedure
You will be taken to the recovery room for observation. Your breathing tube will be removed. You will be transferred to your hospital room for recovery.
How Long Will It Take?
Several hours (depending on your health and the reason for the surgery)
How Much Will It Hurt?
You will not feel pain during surgery. You will be given pain medicine after surgery. You may feel phantom pain. If you do, tell your doctor.
Average Hospital Stay
5-14 days (Your doctor may choose to keep you longer if complications occur.)
At the Hospital
You may be asked to move your stump often while you are in the hospital. This will allow for circulation and prevent contractures (stiffening causing loss of joint movement).
When you return home, do the following to help ensure a smooth recovery:
Call Your Doctor TOP
After you leave the hospital, call your doctor if any of the following occurs:
In case of an emergency, call for medical help right away.
American Diabetes Association
American Orthopaedic Foot and Ankle Society
Amputee Coalition of America
Canadian Diabetes Association
Amputation. Society for Vascular Surgery website. Available at: http://www.vascularweb.org/vascularhealth/Pages/amputation.aspx . Updated September 2011. Accessed November 12, 2012.
Amputation, above-the-knee. EBSCO Health Library. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/healthLibrary/ . Updated December 21, 2011. Accessed November 12, 2012.
Professional Guide to Diseases . 9th ed. Ambler, PA: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2009.
Last reviewed November 2012 by Marcin Chwistek, MD
Last Updated: 11/12/2012