Thursday, June 26, 2003

The doctor is in. Next patient please.

Shirin Sagedhi e-mails after reading the article about Dr Hamon asking why, if it was only my heel that was damaged in the landmine blast, I had to undergo an amputation below the knee.

Why not simply fit a prosthetic heel, she asks.

Why, indeed.

I asked my surgeon the same question at the time, except in my case I think it went something like “why the fuck are you cutting half my leg off? There’s nothing with my leg. It’s my heel that’s been blown off, can’t you see, my heel!!!”

However, once I’d calmed down it was explained to me that there are several reasons for a BK amputation.

For a prosthetic heel to be successful it would need to be covered in skin which has feeling and sensation. Without it I wouldn't know if the area became damaged or infected, leading to possible nasty complications. However, the skin covering my heel, the “heel pad,” had been blown away, making bone grafts or plates impossible.

So why not simply amputate the foot rather than part of the leg as well? Well…

There were a couple of reasons why I didn’t have a through-ankle or "Symes" amputation.

The main reason was that the skin used to cover over the amputated foot area is the heel pad. This, as I’ve already explained, was no longer there. However, even if it had been there, some surgeons think a below-knee amputation is preferable because the Symes prostheses tend to be less satisfactory.

At least that’s what I was told when I was told….and anyway, it’s a bit bloody late to start arguing about it now, don’t you think?

Discuss "Beyond Northern Iraq"


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