Amputation injury

An amputation injury is usually a shocking situation for both those affected and the viewer. Nevertheless, quick help is now needed.


Man in a wheelchair

An amputation injury occurs when a limb is severed due to an accident. Amputation injuries in work accidents are typical, for example if a finger gets into a circular saw or is cut off with a knife. Amputation injuries are also not uncommon in traffic accidents when legs, arms or smaller limbs are separated from the body by the force of an impact or flying debris. Loss of parts of the skin or teeth is also counted among the amputation injuries. The term amputation is derived from the Latin word “amputare” for cutting away.


In principle, amputation injuries can be treated surgically with very good success. During the procedure, severed limbs are not simply sewn on again. Rather, for example, the blood vessels and nerve tracts are also restored as far as possible. However, to make this possible, the time between amputation and surgical treatment should be as short as possible. It is also vital that the severed part of the body is preserved as much as possible.

In the case of small amputation injuries such as the partial loss of a fingertip or skin damage, the amputate is generally not transplanted. For example, fingertips are remodeled using plastic surgery procedures. As a rule, the amputated body tissue cannot be secured in the event of skin injuries. Then intact skin is transplanted from an area of ​​the body or cultured skin cells are used to treat the amputation injury.

The transplant surgery is followed by drug therapy to avoid complications and usually physiotherapy treatment.

Emergency measures in the event of amputation injury

Amputations always go hand in hand with a more or less bleeding wound. The most important first aid emergency measure (after notifying the emergency services) is to stop the bleeding. For this, a pressure bandage is usually the means of choice. The pressure bandage prevents blood from being lost from the torn blood vessels.

If there is little bleeding, it is sufficient to cover the injured part of the body with a sterile wound dressing. A sterile wound covering should also be applied before a pressure dressing is applied to heavily bleeding wounds. Under no circumstances should the wound be cleaned, disinfected or cooled with ice or ice spray, as this can irreparably damage the tissue.

Ensure and store amputates correctly

Detached parts of the body should first be secured as soon as possible and packed in a sterile packaging. In case of doubt, a sterile gauze bandage from the first aid kit is sufficient. It is even better if the amputate is kept in a sterile, waterproof pouch. This bag should ideally be kept in a container with cold water. Under no circumstances should you cut off limbs with ice, wash them off or clean them in any other way.


An individual prognosis about the success of treatment after amputation injuries is not possible at this point. The success of treatment depends primarily on the severity of the injury, the time window until treatment and the condition of the amputate. In general, however, it can be said that most amputation injuries healed up to 6 weeks after the accident if properly treated. Very often there are no consequences except scars.


Amputation injuries are almost always the result of accidents – and not just at work or on the road. You can prevent this by, for example, carefully reading the operating instructions for potentially dangerous devices when doing house and garden work and observing the safety instructions.

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