Amputation is the surgical removal of all or part of an extremity or limb. This surgical procedure may be used to remove cancerous bone tumors from the arm or leg; however, doctors typically consider other options first, such as limb-salvage surgery, which attempts to save the affected limb.
Amputation for bone cancer is usually reserved for cases in which the limb would otherwise be left without good function. Amputation may be necessary when poor circulation causes tissue in the extremities to die. Peripheral arterial disease (PAD), the narrowing of or damage to arteries that lead to a leg or arm, causes poor circulation. PAD often is a result of diabetes.
Other reasons for amputation include:
- A traumatic injury
- Acute or chronic infections that do not respond to antibiotics
- Neuroma – a thickening of nerve tissue
When amputation is used to treat cancer, your doctor removes the limb with the tumor as well as healthy tissue above it. During the surgery, a pathologist will use MRI scans to examine the tissue to help decide how much of the limb needs to be removed. Muscles and skin will be formed around the remaining bone so that an artificial limb can be used.
Our Orthopedic Oncology Program has an orthopedic oncologist on staff, Dr. Richard Schmidt, who has expertise in performing limb-salvage and bone reconstruction surgeries. Your care team also includes a rehabilitation therapist to help you regain function after surgery, along with other clinicians to help reduce pain and improve your comfort.
Your care team also includes a mind-body therapist who can help you address the emotional aspect of amputation, and provide support and encouragement after surgery.