An above-the-knee amputation (AKA) is the surgical removal of the leg above the knee.
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An AKA may be done because of problems in the foot or lower leg such as:
Problems are rare, but all procedures have some risk. The doctor will go over some problems that could happen, such as:
Things that may raise the risk of problems are:
The surgical team may meet with you to talk about:
The doctor may give:
An incision will be made in the skin above the knee. 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. It will form a stump that will cushion the bone. Nerves are divided and placed so they do not cause pain. The skin is closed over the muscles. Drains may be inserted into the stump. It will allow blood and fluids to drain from the area in the first few days after surgery. A dressing and compression stocking will be placed over the stump.
It may take many hours. It depends on the reason for the surgery.
Pain and swelling are common in the first month. Medicine and home care can manage pain.
The usual length of stay is 5 to 14 days. If you have any problems, you may need to stay longer.
Right after the procedure, the staff may:
Physical therapy will be started soon after surgery. The care team will teach you how to use any assistive devices.
During your stay, staff will take steps to lower your chance of infection, such as:
You can also lower your chance of infection by:
It will take 1 to 2 months for the remaining limb to heal. Physical activity will be limited during recovery. You may need to ask for help with daily activities and delay return to work. You will need to learn new ways to do daily tasks. This may take up to a year.
Call the doctor if you are not getting better or you have:
If you think you have an emergency, call for medical help 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:
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Accessed September 28, 2020.
Amputation. Society for Vascular Surgery website. Available at: https://vascular.org/patient-resources/vascular-treatments/amputation. Accessed September 28, 2020.
Management of acute and critical limb ischemia. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at:: https://www.dynamed.com/management/management-of-acute-and-critical-limb-ischemia. Accessed September 28, 2020.
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Last reviewed September 2020 by EBSCO Medical Review Board
Warren A. Bodine, DO, CAQSM
Last Updated: 6/8/2021