Trauma can befall the hand in a wide variety of ways, but one of the most severe is amputation. We typically think of the term “amputation” as a medical procedure—and sometimes that is the case. However, amputation can also occur outside of these medical settings. In these cases, any amputation of digits should be treated as a medical emergency and addressed as quickly as possible. Finger amputations can be caused by a wide variety of issues, including mishaps with kitchen equipment or power tools. But they can also be caused by more innocuous seeming occurrences, such as getting one’s finger trapped in a slammed door.
It’s important to note as well that, in many cases, the finger may be re-attached after its amputation. This, of course, depends on the condition of the finger and of the amputated section. If possible, you should keep any and all amputated digits in a container with ice in order to preserve the tissue as best as possible.
What Are the Symptoms of Amputation?
Unlike many other hand ailments, it is very difficult to miss an amputation. Most patients experience a significant amount of pain. There is often, also a significant amount of bleeding. Some patients may experience shock of varying degrees. Bruising and swelling around the traumatized area are also common. It is worth repeating that if you have experienced an amputation, you should seek out medical attention immediately, as this injury should be treated as a medical emergency.
How are Amputations Treated?
Treating a complete amputation is done with surgery, often in an emergency setting. The specific treatment will depend on how much of the finger has been amputated, whether the joint was amputated as well, and whether the original finger can be realistically re-attached. The surgery itself may also involve reattachment of the nerves, arteries, and veins—even the bones can be sometimes be re-attached. All of this requires significant expertise and experience in order to get the best results. For this reason, it is not uncommon for patients to be required to undergo several staged surgeries.
Additionally, surgery in the future may be required to address a development known as tenolysis, which happens when developing scar tissue limits movement. Often, surgery is needed to remove this scar tissue and return a full range of motion to the patient.
Amputation of any part of the hand is a serious medical condition that should be treated with emergency medicine. In many cases an emergency department surgeon will address the initial trauma, but leave further surgeries to a hand surgeon. Dr. Charles Polsen is a highly qualified and experienced hand surgeon who has addressed many amputation cases from the Houston area, including Clear Lake, TX.
Don’t hesitate to schedule a consultation regarding your hand issues.