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The Risks of Not Amputating a Leg When Necessary

The Risks of Not Amputating a Leg When Necessary

Mar 28, 2024 | Blog

Leg amputation is usually a last resort when other treatment options have failed. It also happens when the limb poses a risk to the patient’s health or quality of life. The decision to amputate is made with careful consideration by healthcare professionals, as well as Board Certified Endovascular Surgeons who specialize in treating conditions affecting blood vessels. 

At CACVI, we have over 30 years of practice and have performed over 15,000 successful vascular and cardiac procedures. Our goal is to provide compassionate care to patients while carrying out amputation prevention procedures. Contact us today to get in touch with our board certified endovascular surgeons!

In this blog, we will talk about leg amputation, what leads to it, and what happens if you don’t amputate a leg. 

What Happens If You Don’t Amputate A Leg?

What Happens If You Don't Amputate A Leg?

Many things could happen if you don’t amputate a leg, including a range of mental health challenges, like grief, identity crisis, and adjustment disorders.

Physically, not amputating a leg when necessary can lead to severe infections that may spread to the bloodstream, causing sepsis. With the rise of antibiotic resistance, treating these infections becomes increasingly challenging. This poses a significant health risk.

Diseased or injured limbs often cause chronic pain and can affect both your physical and mental health. This persistent pain can lead to psychological impacts, such as depression and anxiety. It can significantly diminish the quality of life.

Conditions like diabetes or peripheral artery disease (PAD) can worsen if not addressed through amputation. New treatments for PAD aim to restore blood flow and reduce the need for amputation. Despite all these, amputation may still be necessary in some cases.

Keeping a non-functional or painful limb can severely limit mobility. Thus, leading to social isolation and psychological distress, due to the inability to perform daily activities and engage in social interactions.

Life-Threatening Complications

The risk of not amputating a leg can include severe complications such as heart disease, increased blood pressure, and even death, particularly if conditions like critical limb ischemia are not adequately managed.

Can You Refuse To Get Amputated?

Can You Refuse To Get Amputated?

Amputations are often considered in cases of severe injury, infection, circulatory problems like peripheral artery disease or vascular disease, and cancer. The goal is to remove diseased tissue, prevent further complications like gangrene, and enhance the quality of life by addressing issues such as critical limb ischemia and restoring blood flow. 

Yes, a patient can refuse to get amputated. However, you might be at risk of severe infection, followed by the worsening of your condition, and severe pain. We suggest that you discuss all potential outcomes and treatment options with your doctor so that you can make an informed decision.

The life expectancy of a person with an amputated leg varies depending on factors such as the reason for the amputation, the patient’s overall health, etc. Mortality ranges from 13 to 40% in one year, 35 to 65% in three years, and 39 to 80% in five years, according to the National Health Institute. Advanced medical and prosthetic technologies also play a role in improving life post-amputation.

What Leads to Amputation: Recognizing the Red Flags

What Leads to Amputation: Recognizing the Red Flags

When infections in the leg cannot be controlled with antibiotics or other treatments, it is a sign that amputation may be necessary. This prevents the spread of the infection. There may also be a need for amputation when chronic wounds do not heal due to poor condition, diabetes, or other underlying health issues. In these cases, amputation may be required to prevent serious complications. 

Severe cases of peripheral arterial disease like critical limb ischemia can also lead to amputation. This case happens where reduced blood flow leads to severe pain, skin ulcers, or gangrene. 

While not directly leading to amputation, severe cases of varicose veins and certain symptoms associated with cancer can compromise leg health, potentially leading to situations where amputation might be considered.

If you have infections that are not improving, numbness in your leg or foot, or wounds that do not heal over time, it may be a sign that a limb is beyond saving.

The Dire Need for Timely Action: How Soon Should You Get Your Leg Amputated?

The Dire Need for Timely Action: How Soon Should You Get Your Leg Amputated?

You will need to get your leg amputated as soon as possible, especially when facing conditions that may require leg amputation like severe peripheral artery disease, critical limb ischemia, or deep infections. Delaying amputation in the presence of life-threatening conditions can lead to severe complications, including the spread of infection, increased risk of heart disease due to poor circulation, and even death.

If you act swiftly before severe infections set in, you can significantly impact your recovery process. Vascular surgery, including bypass surgery, might be considered to salvage a limb. But if these measures fail, amputation may become the only viable option.

For those facing the possibility of amputation, consulting with a healthcare provider promptly is critical. Schedule an amputation diagnosis with us now!

How Do Doctors Decide To Amputate?

The first thing a doctor would do is to assess the severity of the condition affecting the leg. Before deciding on amputation, all other treatment options are usually considered. This includes medications, surgical interventions like bypass surgery to increase blood flow, or treatments for infections. Vascular surgeons, orthopedic surgeons, and other specialists may also be consulted to evaluate the possibility of saving the limb.

Most importantly, doctors will discuss the potential benefits, risks, and implications of amputation with the patient and their family. This is to ensure that they consider the patient’s wishes and overall health. 

The time it takes to amputate a leg varies depending on the complexity of the case and the patient’s overall health. It also depends on whether it’s an above-knee or below-knee amputation. Generally, the surgery can take anywhere from 1 to several hours. Precise timing depends on the extent of the disease or injury and the type of amputation being performed. As with any surgical procedure, amputation can be painful. Patients are given anesthesia during the surgery to prevent pain. 

Dr. Khorsandi is one of our doctors and a highly esteemed doctor specializing in amputation prevention, with an impressive career spanning over 30 years in complex cardiovascular and vascular interventions. His expertise and dedication to his field have not only garnered him one of the highest success rates among his peers but have also led to significant innovations in interventional cardiology. 

Dr. Khorsandi’s contributions to medical science are substantial, holding 50 US and international patents, alongside numerous others pending, highlighting his ongoing commitment to advancing medical treatments and technologies. He is also active in developing new methods and procedures that significantly reduce the need for amputations. Thus, profoundly impacting patients’ lives by preserving their mobility and quality of life.

Alternatives to Amputation and Advances in Medical Treatment

Alternatives to Amputation and Advances in Medical Treatment

One of the potential alternatives to amputation would be a limb salvage surgery. It could also be other limb salvage procedures like bypass surgery for patients with peripheral artery disease or peripheral vascular disease. The goal of these procedures is to improve circulation and potentially save the limb from amputation. 

Utilizing the latest in wound care technologies can help heal chronic wounds in conditions like diabetes or venous insufficiency. This might involve using specialized dressings, growth factor therapies, or hyperbaric oxygen therapy.

Vascular interventions to remove blockages and restore blood flow are also advancing rapidly. Innovations in medical technology, including tissue engineering and regenerative medicine, also offer hope for repairing damaged tissues and promoting healing. Thus, reducing the need for amputation.

Early intervention is key to potentially avoiding amputation. It can prevent the progression to a life-threatening stage where amputation becomes the only option. However, it’s crucial to recognize when these measures may no longer be sufficient, and amputation might be necessary to save a life or prevent further health deterioration. 

In such cases, you should schedule an amputation diagnosis with a specialist doctor.

Rehabilitation and Prosthetics: Life After Amputation

Rehabilitation and Prosthetics: Life After Amputation

After amputation, the journey towards adapting to a new way of life begins, with rehabilitation and prosthetics. The rehabilitation process focuses on healing, preventing complications, and preparing for a prosthetic limb if suitable. It involves a range of professionals, including physiotherapists, occupational therapists, and psychologists.

During the rehabilitation program, patients work on different types of exercises to increase their strength and flexibility. Furthermore, therapy sessions are often incorporated to lessen post-amputation pain. Patients would be trained in mobility using assistive devices such as prostheses provided by the surgeon. Counseling and support groups help patients form a positive attitude around their displacement and foster an optimistic perspective on life.

We have helped many patients adjust to living with prosthetic limbs. Today, prosthetics can provide sensory feedback, allowing users to “feel” the ground or grasp objects, enhancing the natural feel of the limb and reducing the cognitive effort needed to use it.

One of our patients, Mr. John states that the journey through amputation, rehabilitation, and adapting to a prosthetic limb underscores the importance of hope, resilience, and the pursuit of advancement in medical technologies. With the right support and resources, individuals who undergo amputation can look forward to living full active lives.

Contact us for an Amputation Diagnosis

The decision to amputate is never an easy one and it often comes after considering all other available treatment options. It’s a decision that not only addresses immediate health concerns but also looks towards the future well-being of the patient. If you or a loved one is facing the possibility of amputation, it’s important not to despair.

We are the top Amputation Prevention Center in California, dedicated to providing expert care and support for individuals facing the potential of amputation. Our team is committed to exploring all possible alternatives to amputation, utilizing the latest in medical treatments and technologies to preserve limbs whenever possible.

Contact us now to learn more about amputation prevention procedures!


If you were told you need an amputation, get a second opinion! We are board certified consultants in endovascular interventions committed to improving the quality of your life and the lives of those you love!

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