Lapis ISSN 2398-2969

Limb amputation

Contributor(s): John Chitty, Anna Meredith

Introduction

  • Complete or partial surgical removal of a limb which is too diseased or damaged for treatment by other means.

Print off the Owner FactsheetsCaring for your rabbit following limb amputation  Caring for your rabbit following limb amputation   and Caring for your rabbit before and after surgery  Caring for your rabbit before and after surgery  to give to your clients.

Uses

  • Amputation of a limb may be necessary in severely comminuted fracture   Limb fracture  , extensive soft tissue damage, chronic osteomyelitis   Osteomyelitis  , joint infection, or where the cost of repairing the leg and aftercare is prohibitive for the owner.
  • The commonest presentation is long-standing neglected fractures, which are severely contaminated. Usually this will be a distal tibial fractures and the leg will be 'swinging' with gross soft tissue contamination. There is often underlying osteoporosis, which can complicate fracture repair.

Advantages

  • Amputation is a good salvage option where the owner is considering euthanasia due to prohibitive cost.
  • Amputation is a relatively quick procedure and there is little surgical risk provided the animal is well stabilized prior to surgery.
  • Amputation is a cheaper alternative to limb repair because it reduces surgery time and removes the need for repeated check ups, radiographs and dressing changes.
  • Rabbits readily adapt to the three-legged state so this is definitely an option where money is a concern and the owner is considering euthanasia, especially in young rabbits.
  • Even hindlimb amputation is well tolerated by the rabbit.

Disadvantages

  • Surgery time is generally shorter than complex fracture repair.
  • The only risk involved is hemorrhage from the femoral artery.
  • Ensure there is no arthritis, trauma or disease, eg pododermatitis, in the contralateral limb such that the rabbit is unable to tolerate the additional weight load.
  • If amputating a hindlimb, the ear on the side of the amputation must be routinely cleaned as the rabbit will be unable to clean/groom on that side without the foot.
  • Possibility of wound infection, trauma and/or abrasion at the site of amputation.

Requirements

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Preparation

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Procedure

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Aftercare

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Outcomes

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Prognosis

  • Rabbits have an excellent recovery rate after amputation and adapt readily to the three-legged state.

Further Reading

Publications

Refereed papers

Other sources of information

  • Current Veterinary Surgery. Ed: Bojrab.
  • Ferrets, Rabbits and Rodents - Clinical Medicine and Surgery (1997) Eds: Hillyer & Queensberry. 1st edn.
  • Textbook of small animal surgery. Ed: Slatter. W B Saunders.


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