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Sometimes It’s Better To Amputate

There’s no technological substitute for the human hand. Manual dexterity is incredibly hard to replicate, and so surgeons will go to great lengths to save injured hands. Unfortunately, sometimes the injury is too severe to allow for any meaningful functional recovery.

In these two cases, well-meaning surgeons refused to amputate the unsalvageable hands, thus delaying recovery and adaptation of prostheses.

This is a photo of a trauma victim who underwent extensive reconstruction of the hand, including transplantation of a toe to the thumb’s position. Gangrene set in and tracked up one of the tendon sheaths.


Photo Credit: Dr. Heikki Uustal

In this case, a burn victim was hoping to have some fingers reconstructed from his fist. He declined amputation and fitting with a prosthesis, despite the potential for enhanced function.


Photo Credit: Dr. Heikki Uustal

In both cases, a wrist disarticulation (amputation at the wrist) and prosthetic fitting (such as this myo-electric device with a self-suspending socket) might have provided a better functional and cosmetic outcome:

Photo Credit: Dr. Heikki Uustal

Photo Credit: Dr. Heikki Uustal

Sometimes, it’s better to amputate.

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