The term amputation refers to the detachment of a body part.  An amputation is a violent trauma that can occur in a sharp instance (for example, a cut) or involve tearing. In the first instance, the margins appear more recognizable, whereas in the second instance, the margins appear more torn.

An accidental amputation typically involves the fingers, though it can also relate to an entire limb. An amputation may be complete (having the entire body part completely removed or cut off) or partial (having a greater portion of the body part removed, though keeping it attached to the rest of the body). In any case, seeking immediate medical attention is vital for ensuring the survival of the limb, as well as the individual in question. The overall outcome of an amputee generally depends on critical care management (determining and implementing the most appropriate form of treatment).

What are the symptoms associated with an accidental amputation of a limb?

An amputation will stop venous and arterial blood flow and cause bleeding. The bleeding may be minimal or severe, depending on the nature of the injury (cut or tear), location, as well as the vessels involved. Also, pain is to be expected, though the degree of pain is not always related to the severity of the injury. Distorted body tissue is evident, though still attached by muscle, tendon, bone or skin.

What to do

In case of an accidental amputation of a limb, the number one priority is to call emergency services for help. Doing so is essential for reattaching the limb in a timely manner, as to avoid any complications. In the meantime, caring for the injured area of the body is vital. Pressure must be applied to the wound using a gauze or clean cloth and if for any chance blood soaks through the cloth, another cloth should be applied without lifting the first. A tourniquet, or other accessory, is often used to control venous and arterial circulation, though it should be reserved for more severe cases and performed only in instances where it can be used properly.  The amputated body part should be rinsed with clean water to remove any dirt, wrapped in a clean cloth, placed in a plastic bag and placed in a container with ice. Cooling the severed part will keep it safe for reattachment for about 18 hours, therefore ensuring the survival of the limb. It is also important to remember to take steps in preventing the individual in question from going into shock. They should be kept at an elevated position in order to avoid any discomfort and covered with a blanket to be kept warm. Checking for additional signs of injury that may require medical attention should be done until medical help arrives.

What not to do

In case of an accidental amputation of a limb, there are a few steps that should be avoided. They include:

  • Not attempting to push back any body part into place
  • Not placing a tourniquet, unless the bleeding is life-threatening
  • Not putting the body part in water, other liquid or directly on the ice
  • Not overlooking any additional signs of injury that may require immediate medical attention


Disclaimer: the information in this article does not in any way replace the intervention or signs associated with this type of emergency, but rather only provides simple tips as how to keep the situation under control while waiting for a medical rescue team to arrive.