Trauma is the second leading cause of amputation in the United States. According to EMS World, more than 30,000 traumatic amputations occur every year. Twenty-five percent of all amputations are due to traumatic accidents.
A traumatic amputation is the accidental severing of some or all of a body part and is classified as either partial or complete. A partial amputation occurs when the amputated part is partially attached to the body by some bone, tissue, or muscle. A complete amputation occurs when the part is completely severed from the body.
The most common traumatic amputation is a partial hand amputation, with the loss of one or more fingers. The loss of an arm is the second most common.
Males between the ages of 15 and 30 account for four out of every five traumatic amputations.
Traumatic amputations are not limited to adults. Approximately 600 children undergo lawnmower-related amputations each year in the United States reports the Industrial Safety and Health Hygiene News.
Common Causes of traumatic amputation
What should be done in case of a traumatic amputation?
It is crucial to get first aid or emergency care immediately after a traumatic amputation so that you can ensure a physician has the best chance to reattach the part(s) and so that the patient has the best chance to regain feeling and function.
The most critical steps to take when a traumatic amputation occurs are:
Contact the nearest emergency services provider, clearly describe what has happened, follow any instructions given
Make sure the victim can breathe, administer CPR if needed
Control bleeding using direct pressure; minimize or avoid contact with blood and other body fluids
Patients should not be moved if back, head, leg, or neck injuries are suspected or if motion causes pain. If none is found by a trained professional, position the victim flat with the feet raised 12 inches above the surface.
Cover the victim with a coat or blanket to prevent shock.
The injured site should be cleansed with a sterile solution and wrapped in a clean towel or other thick material that will protect the wound from further injury. Tissue that is still attached to the body should not be forced back into place. If it cannot be gently replaced, it should be held in its normal position and supported until additional care is available.
Saving the patient’s life is always more important than recovering the amputated part(s). Transporting the patient to a hospital or emergency center should never be delayed.
Try preserving tissue
If an attempt to salvage any amputated body part is to be made, any contaminating material should be removed, and the tissue should not get wet. Wrap the severed body part in bandages, towels, or other clean, protective material and seal it in a plastic bag. Place the sealed bag in a container inside a second container that is filled with ice to prevent tissue deterioration.
Can there be replantation?
Successful restoration of function is the goal of replantation after a traumatic amputation occurs. Various factors affect if there will be successful replantation both aesthetically and functionally. Some factors include:
Age of the patient (younger patients heal better)
Location of the amputation (upper extremities replantations are more successful than lower extremities)
Health of the patient (is the patient able to withstand prolonged surgery)
Amount of contamination to the wound (a contaminated part has a lower chance of successfully being reattached)
Length of time the amputated part has been detached from the body (after six hours, the chance of successful replantation decreases)
It is vital to have proper nutrition after an amputation or reattachment surgery to help with healing. The patient should have a well-balanced diet with sufficient caloric value and a diet rich in vitamins for the healing process to progress.
Traumatic amputations may cause possible complications such as:
Excessive bleeding and shock
Pulmonary embolism (blockage of an artery in the lungs)
Precautions are the best way to prevent traumatic amputation. Always wear a seatbelt and obey traffic regulations such as speed. Before you attempt to service or repair machinery, make sure it is turned off. Wear appropriate clothing and take special precautions when using the potentially dangerous equipment. Children should never be left alone near machinery or power tools such as lawnmowers.
How The Carlson Law Firm can help
If you or a loved one has suffered a traumatic amputation, our team at The Carlson Law Firm is ready to assist. We have the resources, investigators, and on-staff nurses to help. Contact us today for a free, no-obligation consultation. We care, we can help.