Elective Amputation of an Upper Limb
by Amber Henson, on May 17, 2022
One of the most important things to know about an “elective amputation” is that the word “elective” doesn’t usually mean “wanted.” People who find themselves having to decide whether to have an elective amputation would rather not be in that position. They would rather not have had the injury, or stroke, or failed surgeries. But deciding to have an elective amputation means they are ready to move forward, past pain or other difficulties.
While considering an elective amputation is very challenging, there are some silver linings. Having time to come to terms with the idea of amputation can be beneficial. This extra time can allow patients to have a pre-surgical consult with their physician, which can include our prosthetists’ expertise about the best amputation level given the patient’s work and hobbies. Additionally, having the opportunity to learn more about prosthetic options before an amputation can take away a lot of the fearful thoughts about the “after,” including how it will be returning to work after an elective amputation.
Our patient Wesley (pictured above) had a stroke when he was a baby. Afterward, his arm was permanently bent at the elbow and his fingers were locked in a clinch. He experienced a lot of pain that grew worse over the years, and surgery did not alleviate the pain. He came to the decision to have an elective amputation to relieve his pain, reduce the overuse of his sound hand, and allow him to use two hands for his everyday tasks. He was able to come to our Southwest Center in Dallas in advance of his surgery to learn more about his prosthetic options:
Here’s Wesley after his amputation, with his customized prosthesis:
Our patient Wendi decided to go through with an amputation of her arm above the elbow after 19 surgeries that failed to alleviate her pain. You can learn more about Wendi in the article she wrote for us during Limb Loss and Limb Difference Awareness Month in April of 2023 and watch her video below:
Another patient of ours, Darren, was born with an arteriovenous malformation in his hand. After eight surgeries that attempted to bring him more hand function did not succeed, Darren made a decision to amputate. “My hand was just not functional. I couldn’t grab anything with it. Honestly, I wish I had done the amputation sooner. When I did have it done, I was in and out of the hospital the same day.” You can read more about Darren's perspective and how he's doing with his prosthetic devices in his summer 2023 interview with us.
Are you facing the prospect of an elective amputation? We encourage you to learn more by meeting with our clinical team for a complimentary consultation, either in person or via video chat. During that consultation, our team will discuss your options and the next steps that they recommend for your situation. Have you had an elective amputation and would like to give some advice to your peers? Please leave a comment below. Thanks for reading and we wish you the best with your decision.
For more information, see Arm Dynamics related articles here: