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Leg amputation


If you or a loved one are trying to come to terms with life after a partial or total leg amputation the serious injury team at Shoosmiths can help. We have decades of experience in dealing with leg amputation claims. We know that an amputation can be a very distressing event. We also know that with the right help and assistance an amputated leg shouldn’t prevent an individual from you living as full a life as possible if they get the right help and assistance.

What is leg amputation?

Our legs consist of a complex system of bones, joints, ligaments, and soft tissue. Movement depends on co-ordinated between three major joints as well the foot. In simple terms the leg can be divide into sections connected by joints namely: -

Lower limb skeleton amputation

Injuries to any part of a leg could result in the loss of the entire leg or one or more sections for example a below knee or below ankle amputation. The higher the point of the amputation the more complicated any replacement prosthetic has to be for example with a below knee amputation the prosthetic will need to incorporate an ankle joint whereas a below knee amputation calls for a prosthetic with two joints, ankle and knee the movement of which has to be co-ordinated.

An amputation may be the direct result of trauma suffered in an accident for example road traffic accident or a workplace accident.

In other cases, an amputation may be due to surgical intervention when repeated attempts to deal with the consequences of leg injury fail and the leg cannot be saved. Or when despite successful attempts to repair the damaged caused by accident repeated uncontrolled infections mean that life is endangered, and amputation becomes necessary.

What are the different types of leg amputation?

Hip amputation

Disarticulation or hemipelvectomy is the most dramatic type of leg amputation. It involves the removal of the whole leg. As such, it is one of the most demanding and invasive surgical amputation procedures from a technical standpoint.

Above-knee amputations

Above-knee amputation  – or transfemoral amputations – is a more common surgical procedure when damage to the leg is caused by trauma or disease. In some cases, it is done to “save the leg” if the limb below the knee becomes infected e.g., if a fracture does not heal.

Below-knee amputation

A transtibial amputation is where a section of the leg above the ankle, but below the knee joint, is removed. The aim will be to keep as much healthy bone, skin, blood vessel and nerve tissue as possible. Unlike a transfemoral amputation, the amputee still has the knee joint. This means they will have greater flexibility than someone who has an above-knee amputation.

Foot amputation

There are different types of foot amputation, which include:

In rare cases, someone may suffer a bilateral amputation. This is where both lower limbs are affected – not just one. An example of this when both legs are amputated above the knee. But, no matter what type or level of amputation you experience, it can have a significant impact on your life.

What can cause a leg amputation?

Just like any amputation, the loss of all or part of a leg is never a first-choice option. It may be caused by the sudden, violent force you experience in a traumatic incident such as an accident at work. In such cases, the short-term impact can be serious due to the loss of blood or shock.

An amputated leg could also be the result of a medical procedure. If a leg is so badly damaged after an accident and cannot be repaired, surgical removal – while a worst-case scenario – may be the most effective way to ensure the fullest overall recovery. Sometimes even if the treatment for the injured leg goes well the later a repeated uncontrolled infection that can persist in the bone and can spread means an amputation is required to protect life.

Other medical conditions such as diabetes can also lead to leg amputation.

What does leg amputation surgery involve?

A surgical leg amputation will be done under general anaesthetic or with an epidural alternative, according to the NHS. While leg amputation is mainly about removing all or part of a limb, there are extra procedures used to improve the function of the remaining section of the leg limb that helps to reduce later stump and skin complications.

In an elective above-knee leg amputation, for example, the skill of the surgeon is in cutting your femur above the knee joint. The aim is to leave enough of the soft tissue and allow the skin flaps to cover the end of the remaining part of the bone. This creates a ‘stump’ that will fit the socket of a prosthesis – if one is to be fitted after the operation.

If an amputation is an elective procedure, the surgeon and the prosthetist need to work together before the operation to ensure the best result is achieved with the stump socket fitting.

Of course, your surgical options are more limited when traumatic amputation occurs at the time of the accident. Your options will be based around saving as much undamaged  tissue as possible. 

Leg amputation: How common is it?

The number of people rebuilding their life after leg amputation is relatively small when compared to the overall population. But the number of leg amputations carried out in English NHS hospitals did increase by 3% in 2018-9. In part, this is down to an 18% rise in diabetes-related lower limb amputation – but there was also a 6% growth in emergency leg amputation admissions.

The figures also reveal a fairly even split between the number of finished consultant episodes for above-knee amputations (2,377) and below-knee amputations (2,309).

Here at Shoosmiths, we will never treat you as a statistic – but as a person who needs our legal advice and practical support. If you suffer a leg amputation due to someone else’s actions or negligence, you might have a claim. And we are here to help if that is the case. For a free initial consultation, talk to our amputation claims specialists – call us on 0370 086 8686 or send us a message.

Life after leg amputation: What is the impact?

It can sometimes be hard to truly appreciate how much we depend on our legs for everyday tasks and activities. So, it can be really hard for you and your loved ones to adjust to life after a leg amputation. It can affect all areas of our lives, such as:

An amputated leg should not stop you from living life the way you want to, however. While you will likely need to find new or different ways of doing certain things. At Shoosmiths, we partner with some of the best experts to provide a holistic service to the people we help. It can include physiotherapy, emotional support, rehabilitation for an amputated leg and prosthetics.

A below-knee amputation – for example – means you will lose the ankle joint. To regain the best mobility possible with a prosthetic limb, it is necessary to consider the different types of artificial foot and ankle joints  that are now available. We can put you in touch with the right specialists to help with this – call 0370 086 8686 or send us a message  to learn more about how we can help.

Are there any risks with a leg amputation?

No operation is without risk. If your amputated leg is the result of surgery that is elective or the last-resort solution, there may be pain or bleeding after the operation that will soon recover. You could also experience “phantom limb” – a condition where sensation can still be felt in your leg, even after it is removed.

Shoosmiths can help manage these risks and outcomes in the short-term. With our connections to some of the best medical specialists and support networks, you will get the help you need.

How can an amputated leg affect someone?

For anyone who suffers an amputated leg, there is more than just the obvious physical impact to think about. There is also the emotional impact that affects you and your loved ones – and needs just as much attention. From our experience, we appreciate how valuable the proper support can be. So, it is something that our team of legal experts work hard to make sure you receive.

Rehabilitation for an amputated leg involves a multidisciplinary team. It combines physiotherapy with emotional counselling and prosthetics. Ongoing advances in materials and technologies are improving how leg prosthetics work, look and feel. However, state-of-the-art devices are often more costly and not usually available on the NHS.

This is one area in which an amputation compensation claim can help. The amount you receive is never designed to make up for the loss of all or part of a leg. After all, nothing can undo the pain and suffering. But it does give you the best chance of rebuilding your life after a leg amputation. For more details and to discover if you have a claim, call 0370 086 8686 or send us a message.

How can Shoosmiths help me?

No-one should have to come to terms with a leg amputation on their own. Here at Shoosmiths, we have a team of dedicated amputation claims specialists with the experience of working with people like you and your loved ones. When an amputated leg is caused by an avoidable trauma or accident, it is only right that you get the compensation and recognition you deserve.

It is not possible to say for sure how much compensation you will get for a leg amputation that someone else is at fault for. Each claim is unique to the person involved. It looks at the causes, as well as how an amputated leg is likely to affect you and your family now and in the future.

You can learn more about the other people we have helped – or talk to one of our friendly legal experts to find out if you could make a claim. Contact us today on 0370 086 8686 or send us a quick message for an initial consultation that is free, impartial and entirely on your terms.

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This information is for educational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. It is recommended that specific professional advice is sought before acting on any of the information given. © Shoosmiths LLP 2022

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