Amputation of a finger


Amputation of a finger is the separation of a finger from the body, for example as a result of an accident. Depending on which finger is affected and at what height the amputation takes place, there is a risk of functional impairment of the hand. In some cases, the finger can be reattached by hand surgery and, if necessary, its function can be regained. The procedure is known as reimplantation. Otherwise, surgical treatment of the remaining residual limb is performed so that it can heal.

Causes for amputation of a finger

By far the most common cause of amputation of a finger is an accident. Both work and leisure accidents can lead to the loss of a finger. One can differentiate between cutting injuries, for example from a saw, knife or scissors, and crushing injuries, for example from being trapped in a machine.

Road traffic accidents can also lead to the amputation of a finger. Less frequent causes of finger amputation are diseases that lead to non-healing wounds on the fingers. This is often a circulatory disorder due to a vascular disease. Amputation – in such a case, the planned surgical removal of a finger – is the last remaining therapeutic measure when there is no prospect of healing and the finger otherwise carries an inflammation risk for the entire body.

Indication for the amputation of a finger

For the indication of an amputation of a finger, the examination of the patient (if necessary, the stump of the finger and the severed finger) as well as the doctor’s questioning about the course of the accident is decisive. It is also important to indicate possible concomitant diseases such as diabetes (“diabetes”), which can have an influence on wound healing. A trained eye and close examination of the injured finger enables the doctor to estimate the extent of the injury.

If necessary, the doctor will have an x-ray of the hand taken to assess the impairment of bony structures. The above measures are usually sufficient for an exact diagnosis. If a surgical procedure is to be performed to treat and possibly restore the hand, the doctor will also draw blood. Further diagnostic measures such as a CT or an MRT are not necessary in most cases. As soon as the diagnosis has been established, prompt therapy, usually through surgery in a hand surgery clinic, is crucial.

Accompanying symptoms with an amputated finger

When a finger is amputated in an accident, the primary symptom is pain on the remaining stump of the finger. Accompanying symptoms can also include swelling of the hand and heavy bleeding. In addition, many people react to the usually shocking sight of the blood-soaked and disfigured hand and to the pain with other symptoms such as trembling, sweating, circulatory problems and even fainting.

Panic and anxiety can also occur as accompanying symptoms. Accompanying persons should therefore try to stop the bleeding with a simple pressure bandage and also try to calm the patient until medical treatment is possible. If the amputation of a finger is not the result of an accident but the aim of an intervention, for example in the case of a circulatory disorder, numbness in the affected finger may occur as an accompanying symptom before the intervention.

After a finger amputation of any kind, the focus is on a functional limitation of the hand. This is usually most pronounced when the thumb or index finger is lost. For all other fingers, the grasping function can usually be retained as far as possible if only one finger is amputated.

However, as after every amputation, so-called phantom pain can occur after some time. This means that pain signals are transmitted via the nerve tracts from the missing finger. The finger hurts even though it is no longer there.

An amputation of a finger caused by an accident is usually very painful. Most patients initially describe the pain as sharp and bright. After some time, the character of the pain often changes.

The pain is then rather throbbing and dull. Depending on the extent of the injury, the pain can also radiate into the hand or forearm. As soon as a doctor is on site, he can administer painkillers to the patient, which usually relieve the pain significantly. The hand usually still hurts after the operation, but this can and should also be treated with painkillers. This could also be interesting for you: Painkillers – You should know that!