Amputation: forelimb

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Introduction

  • Amputation of the forelimb at the level of the mid-humerus.
    Print off the owner factsheet Caring for the amputee dog to give to your client.

Uses

Advantages

  • The procedure is usually a 'salvage' option when no possibility of retention of a functional limb exists due to failure of other treatments or due to the expected course of a neoplastic condition.

Disadvantages

  • Appearance and/or the functional locomotion of the amputated patient is usually unacceptable to some owners, even after counseling.
  • Certain patients, eg large breed dogs with orthopedic disease in other limb(s), may not be good candidates for amputation.

Requirements

Materials required

Minimum equipment

  • Standard surgical pack.
  • Oscillating bone saw, hacksaw blade, Gigli wire or osteotome/mallet.
  • Bone holding forceps.

Ideal equipment

  • Electrocoagulation apparatus.
  • Hemoclips/vascular staples.
  • Bone rasp (file).

Minimum consumables

  • Irrigation solution.

Ideal consumables

  • Synthetic absorbable suture material, eg polyglactin (Vicryl); polydioxanone (PDS).
  • Bone wax (reduce medullary hemorrhage).

Other requirements

  • An assistant can be helpful to hold/manipulate the limb for the surgeon.

Preparation

  • 20 min.

Outcomes

Complications

  • Distant neoplastic metastases if amputation due to neoplasia.

Prognosis

  • Depends on the reasons for amputation.
  • If the primary disease is treated successfully, most small and medium-sized dogs cope very well with forelimb amputation.

Reasons for treatment failure

  • Usually, due to neoplastic processes which cause secondary effects, eg in the chest, and not directly related to the amputation procedure itself.
  • Poor patient selection, ie other orthopedic problems, obese, etc.
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