Encyclopedia Home / A / Amputation - traumatic

Amputation - traumatic

  • Alternative Names

    Loss of a body part


    First Aid
    1. Check the person's airway (open if necessary); check breathing and circulation. If necessary, begin rescue breathing, CPR, or bleeding control.
    2. Try to calm and reassure the person as much as possible. Amputation is painful and extremely frightening.
    3. Control bleeding by applying direct pressure to the wound, by elevating the injured area, and, if necessary, by using pressure point bleeding control. If the bleeding continues, recheck the source of the bleeding and reapply direct pressure, with help from someone who is not fatigued. If the person is suffering from life-threatening bleeding, a constriction bandage or tourniquet will be easier to use than compression of pressure points.
    4. Save any severed body parts and ensure that they stay with the patient. Remove contaminating material if possible, and gently rinse the body part if the cut end is contaminated with dirt. Wrap the severed part in a clean, damp cloth, place it in a sealed plastic bag and immerse the bag in cold water (ice water if available). Do NOT directly immerse the part in water and do NOT put the severed part directly on ice. Do NOT use dry ice as this will cause frostbite and injury to the part. If cold water is not available, keep the part away from heat as much as possible. Save it for the medical team, or take it to the hospital. Cooling the severed part will keep it viable for about 18 hours. Without cooling, it will only remain useable for about 4 to 6 hours.
    5. Take steps to prevent shock. Lay the person flat, raise the feet about 12 inches, and cover the person with a coat or blanket. Do NOT place the person in this position if a head, neck, back, or leg injury is suspected or if it makes the victim uncomfortable.
    6. Once the bleeding at the site of the amputation is under control, examine the person for other signs of injury that require emergency treatment. Treat fractures, additional cuts, and other injuries appropriately.
    7. Stay with the person until medical help arrives.

    Do Not
    • Do NOT forget that saving the victim's life is more important than saving a body part.
    • Do NOT overlook other, less obvious, injuries.
    • Do NOT attempt to push any part back into place.
    • Do NOT decide that a body part is too small to save.
    • Do NOT place a tourniquet, unless the bleeding is life threatening, as the entire limb may be placed in jeopardy.
    • Do NOT raise false hopes of reattachment.

    Call immediately for emergency medical assistance if

    If someone severs a limb, finger, toe, or other body part, you should call immediately for emergency medical help.