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Amputation

Is Above or Below the Knee Amputation Better?

11/07/2006

Question:

Which is better, above or below the knee amputation?

Answer:

Amputation below the knee is far preferable to amputation through or above the knee. This is true even for a person who wouldn't be doing much - or any - walking after amputation, since having an intact knee joint significantly improves mobility in the bed.

An above-knee amputee must expend considerably greater effort to walk with a prosthesis compared to a below-knee amputee walking with a prosthesis. And, despite the considerable advances which have been made in prosthetic componentry for above-knee amputees - particularly with the availability of microprocessor-controlled knee units - there really is no substitute for the structure and function of an intact knee joint.

Exceptions to the usual preference to keep the knee joint intact would include:

The specifics of each patient's unique situation should be discussed with each patient by his/her physicians, to determine what is best for them.

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Response by:

Brian L Bowyer, MD Brian L Bowyer, MD
Clinical Associate Professor
Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation
College of Medicine
The Ohio State University