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An A-K amputation, or an AKA, is an above the knee amputation which is also known in medical terms as a transfemoral amputation. An A-K amputation removes the leg from above the knee. The femur, which is located in the thigh, is divided approximately 3-4 inches (7.5-10 cm) above the knee joint and the remaining muscle and skin is then closed over the end of the bone. The remaining portion of the limb is most commonly referred to as a stump or the residual limb.
There are several different causes that can lead to an A-K amputation. Some of the most common causes are injury to the leg that cannot be repaired, cancer, blood clot, infection or deformity. The most common cause of an amputation comes from hardening of the arteries which results in an insufficient blood supply to the leg. Hardening of the arteries is often, though not exclusively, a symptom of diabetes.
An A-K amputation is considered major surgery and is performed in a hospital by a vascular surgeon. Spinal anesthesia is the most commonly used form of anesthesia for an A-K amputation. It numbs the patient from the waist down, so he or she remains awake during the procedure but does not experience any pain. General anesthesia that allows the patient to sleep through the procedure is also used in some instances,.
After effects of amputation can include pain, swelling and phantom pain or sensation. Phantom pain is the experience pain in the limb that has been removed, whereas phantom sensations are feelings that the amputated limb is still there. Patients often experience itching, aching or burning in the amputated limb or the sensation that the removed limb is moving. Complications such as wound infection, bleeding and blood clots, and depression can also occur.
Though recovery time is different for each patient, an amputee can remain in the hospital for up to six weeks after surgery. Once recovered from the surgery, the patient will begin working with physiotherapists and occupational therapists to learn how to manage independently. Physical therapy will help strengthen the upper body, improve balance, strengthen the remaining whole limb and maintain flexibility in the amputated limb. Patients also learn how to move from the bed to a wheelchair and back again as well as how to use a wheelchair.
An A-K amputee can be fitted for a temporary prosthesis, or artificial leg, soon after surgery. The temporary prosthesis is used during physical and mobility therapy, and a permanent prosthesis will be fitted and made after the residual limb has fully healed. Some patients do not use a prosthesis and rely on the use of a wheelchair for mobility.