Leg amputation


Many people undergoing an amputation may feel overwhelmed or lost. It may feel as if your life has been turned upside down. But whatever type of amputation you experience, it is important to remember that it does not change who you are as a person. By relying upon experts, including a certified prosthetist, and participating as an active member of your rehabilitation team, you may realise the ultimate goal of restoring mobility and resuming a life without limitations.

Please note that the information provided on this site should not be considered medical advice. It is only intended to help you communicate with your healthcare providers. Always seek and listen to the advice of your physician and your care team when evaluating your individual medical and prosthetic options.

Historically, there has never been a better time to be living with limb loss. Modern technology is helping amputees live their best lives every day. Combining innovative prosthetic solutions with the experience of inspiring influencers, can help you adapt and resume doing the things you love, although sometimes it may be in new ways. 

Definition of amputation

Amputation is the removal of limb(s), parts of limbs or soft tissue - either through trauma or surgically during an operation.

Reasons for amputation

According to data from the Amputee Coalition, the main causes for lower limb amputation are vascular disease (54%), trauma (45%) and cancer (less than 2%).

There are 500 amputations every day the United States (Amputee Coalition). Transtibial (below the knee) amputations are the most common, representing approximately 71% of all amputations.

Diabetes affects an estimated 8.3% of the U.S. population and the number of amputations caused by diabetes increased by 24% from 1988 to 2009. The International Diabetes Federation predicts that the current global prevalence of diabetes will escalate from 285 million people to 435 million by 2030. It is also projected that the number of diabetic-related amputations will more than double by 2050.

Levels of amputation

There are many different types of amputation. The level of an amputation refers to the place where a body part is amputated. The amputation level matters because it impacts the residual limb’s functional ability, strength and mobility. Your amputation level also will dictate which prosthetic solution is right for you.

Your surgeon and rehabilitation team will conduct a thorough evaluation to determine the correct level of amputation for your unique situation.

Glossary of terms

These common terms describe different types of amputation:

A. Residual limb: the portion of a limb remaining after an amputation.
B. Transfemoral amputation: amputation through the thigh bone, between the hip and the knee, also called “above knee” or “AK.“
C. Knee disarticulation: amputation through the knee joint, also called a “KD.“
D. Transtibial amputation: amputation through the calf and shin bones, between the knee and the ankle, also called “below knee” or “BK.“

E. Ankle disarticulation: amputation through the ankle.
F. Transmetatarsal amputation: amputation through the forefoot. This may also be referred to as a Symes Amputation.
G. Bilateral amputation: amputation of both legs.

Glossary of terms

These common terms describe different types of amputation:

  • Residual limb: the portion of a limb remaining after an amputation.
  • Transfemoral amputation: amputation through the thigh bone, between the hip and the knee, also called “above knee” or “AK.“
  • Knee disarticulation: amputation through the knee joint, also called a “KD.“
  • Transtibial amputation: amputation through the calf and shin bones, between the knee and the ankle, also called “below knee” or “BK.“
  • Ankle disarticulation: amputation through the ankle.
  • Transmetatarsal amputation: amputation through the forefoot. This may also be referred to as a Symes Amputation.
  • Bilateral amputation: amputation of both legs.