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Home > Personal Injury > Serious injuries > Amputations > Reasons for an amputation

Amputations - Reasons for an amputation

Circumstances resulting in an amputation

The NHS National Amputation Statistical Database Annual Report states that in the UK there are approximately 6,000 new patient referrals to the NHS prosthetic limb services each year. Approximately half the amputations are carried out on people aged 65 or over. There are also twice as many male amputees as women.

Whilst the most common amputations involve a leg or an arm, hands and fingers may need to be amputated, as may feet and toes.

Regional variations in amputation rates for diabetics

A recent study published in the journal Diabetologia, reveals that amputation rates for diabetics across England vary widely. They are up to 10 times higher in some parts of the country than others. The study fits with previous research that had suggested that up to 80% of diabetes-related amputations could be avoided.
More about Regional variations in amputation rates for diabetics

More news surrounding amputation


Please select one of the links below for more information on the causes of amputation.

Amputation as a result of a loss of blood supply

The reasons why an amputation may be necessary includes a wide range of circumstances.
However, around 70% of all amputations are necessary because of the loss of a blood supply to the affected limb, which is a condition known as dysvascularity. A large number of these conditions arise when the patient has diabetes, which can lead to damage to the blood vessels due to their high blood glucose levels.

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Amputation due to Infections

Infection can arise as the result of a wound, through either an accidental injury, or where ulcers develop. If the infection cannot be treated, gangrene can develop and an amputation is the only option to prevent this life-threatening disease from spreading to the rest of the body. Again, diabetics are more prone to the development of ulcers due to the danger of a reduced blood supply.

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Atherosclerosis related amputations

Potentially serious and progressive, Atherosclerosis is the condition where the body's arteries become clogged by fatty substances such as cholesterol. Referred to as plaques or atheromas, lifestyle factors that can increase the risk of these developing include:

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Amputations following clinical negligence

Tragically, some amputations are necessary as the result of clinical negligence. This may include failures by medical staff to correctly diagnose or correctly treat conditions such as those described above. It can also result from failure to diagnose conditions such as deep vein thrombosis or cancer at an early stage.

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Amputations as a result of accident or injury

Referring to the fact that the limb or body part has literally been torn away, a traumatic amputation can occur through accidents and may result in a partial or full amputation. Whilst it may sometimes be possible to re-attach the severed part, often the remaining part of the severed limb (residual limb) will need to undergo surgery to excise and clean the stump, and make it suitable for a prosthetic limb where possible.

Accidents can also leave the injured person with such serious injuries that amputation is the only option. These may include crushing injuries, blast injuries, or severe burns. Some amputations are also necessary following damage caused by exposure to harmful chemicals such as acid.

Such accidents may include road accidents (particularly motorcycle accidents, but also cycling accidents or accidents involving pedestrians), accidents at work, or even accidents involving public transport such as train crashes, and of course blast or burn injuries received by members of the armed forces or emergency services.

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Medical advances affecting the number of amputations

Although it will be necessary to continue to carry out many amputations each year in order to save lives, advances in all types of medical and surgical treatment are helping to reduce this number.

Advances too in the technology of prosthetic and cosmetic limbs are helping to ensure that where possible, an amputee will have the most appropriate and useful limb.

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Preparing for a non-emergency amputation

Pre-operation assessment

Except in an emergency situation, it is usual for someone facing an amputation to undergo a pre-operative assessment. This involves a number of tests and procedures before the amputation takes place, designed to assess a number of factors that may have an effect on your post-operative rehabilitation, or may even influence the type of amputation that is recommended for you. Such tests might include:

The result of these tests and assessments will provide the surgeon with a good understanding of the type of amputation you will need, and the range of after-care support and treatments that will be required to help you make a speedy recovery. Where possible, you will be introduced to the specialists who will be involved with your treatment, such as a physiotherapist and a prosthetist (a specialist in prosthetic limbs). You may also be able to talk to someone who has undergone a similar type of amputation, to reassure you and to discuss issues that you may have.


Although many people have gone through the experience you may be facing, when you find yourself having to face the prospect of an amputation, you may feel many emotions and that you are the only person who can understand what this will mean to you, and of course, only you will understand your own personal circumstances.

However, you will be offered specialist counselling and it is important to know that your emotions are perfectly normal and they will pass. In addition, there are many support groups available, many on-line, who will offer support and advice through this difficult time. You may feel isolated, lonely, be experiencing fear, uncertainty and sadness at the prospect of life following your amputation. You may also be suffering from physical pain and wondering if you will ever be free of it.

Whatever the cause of your amputation, the grieving process is vital in order to allow you to come to terms with your situation. The time taken in this process can be relatively short or may take several months, and you will pass through several stages before you come to accept your situation.

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Personal injury news stories

Clear Answers' specialist personal injury solicitors deal with a large number of all types of personal injury and accident compensation claims each year, many resulting in serious injuries such as head and brain injuries as well as amputations. Details of some of these successful compensation claims can be found in our Personal Injury News Section, which is updated regularly.

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Making a claim for compensation following an amputation

If you or a member of your family has suffered an amputation, either in an accident or as the result of clinical negligence, it is vital that you seek specialist advice as quickly as possible. Clear Answers' specialist serious injury solicitors can give guidance and assistance on whether it is possible to make a claim for compensation.

Our team of expert personal injury lawyers is waiting to help you, happy to explain the claims process in plain English, and to answer any questions you may have regarding your compensation claim.

If you would like Clear Answers to help you receive the compensation to which you are entitled, please telephone us now on 0800 783 9019 or complete our online compensation claim form and one of our representatives will contact you as soon as possible to discuss the circumstances of your accident or injury.

Please go to our Costs and Risks section for more detailed information on these and how Clear Answers will handle your claim and funding.

Alternative funding arrangements may apply in Northern Ireland due to differing procedures and Law Society regulations.

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