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Pending leg amputation



I`m a 56 year old woman with circulation problems in my left leg. My doctor is recomending my left leg be amputated just below the knee very soon. I already lost my right leg about a foot above my knee two years ago. They first amputated the right leg at the knee and then two months later about a foot higher. My stump is very short, less than six inches. I told my doctor that I wanted him to go ahead and amputate my left leg about a foot above my knee, like the right one was done the second time so I wouldn`t need to possibly go through it another time. I already use a wheelchair all the time, this won`t change. My doctor doesn`t really want to take my left leg that high, at least not right now. The doctor wants to amputate in the next two weeks. I need some advice. I feel I`m better off just amputating the left leg a foot above my knee like the right one is now. I feel it would be easier for me to move around if they were the same. I haven`t had any problems with the right leg since the second surgery. I figure it should be my choice since it`s my leg. My left leg will be coming off no later than August 4th. the surgery has been scheduled. It maybe sooner. I just don`t know exactly where yet. What is your opinion on where my left leg should be amputated?


If your surgeon is confident your healing would progress smoothly if you undergo an amputation below the knee, usually it is best to save the knee, since leaving the knee intact - not only so it can continue to bend and straighten, but to also leave a longer residual limb to serve as a more effective lever - usually benefits certain aspects of a person's mobility, particularly when attempting to turn or otherwise move from a lying down position, even if they have no plans to use a prosthesis. However, amputation below the knee requires the person to perform a regular exercise program for their residual limb, particularly to counteract the tendency to develop a "knee flexion contracture", which is if the back of the knee becomes too tight to allow the person to fully straighten their knee.

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Response by:

Brian L Bowyer, MD Brian L Bowyer, MD
Clinical Associate Professor
Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation
College of Medicine
The Ohio State University