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Removal of any part of the body, usually surgical removal of part or all of a limb. Congenital amputation means lack of a limb at birth (seeagenesis). Surgical amputation may be a lifesaving measure to prevent excessive blood loss from injury or to check the spread of infection, gangrene, or malignant soft-tissue or bone tumours. Reconstructive surgery, prompt treatment with blood and plasma, and rehabilitation have made amputation rarer than in the past. Prostheses reduce handicaps for amputees, whose surgery may have been designed with a prosthesis in mind.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on amputation, visit Britannica.com.