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Amputation of the Foot or Toe

We amputate toes, foot or part of a foot most often to:

  • Treat infections
  • Remove dead or damaged tissue, caused by gangrene or serious trauma 


About The Procedure

Before The Procedure

Before the surgery, we may perform:

  • Blood tests
  • X-rays of toe and foot
  • Bone scans to see if the bone is infected
  • Tests to evaluate blood circulation and determine how much of the foot or toe needs to be amputated

Talk to your doctor about medication you're taking. You may be asked to adjust the dose or stop taking certain medicines.

Amputation Procedure

Your care team gives you IV fluids and antibiotics and washes your foot with an antibacterial solution. Your surgeon then makes an incision into the skin around the area and ties off the blood vessels with an electrical current to prevent bleeding.

Your surgeon removes any necessary bones and smooths the ends of the remaining bone(s). The remaining skin and muscle cover the open area, and your surgeon closes it with stitches and a sterile dressing.

If you have an active infection, we may drain fluids with a tube. In some cases, we may have to leave the skin open and packed with a moist dressing.

The procedure takes about 20-60 minutes. Your hospital stay can last between 2-7 days.

crush toe amputation

Amputation of Crushed Toe

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After the Amputation

In a recovery room, your care team monitors you for any negative effects from the surgery or anesthesia. You'll receive pain medicine and antibiotic medicines.

At the hospital:

  • Your foot will be kept elevated.
  • Your doctor wraps the remaining toes or foot with a bulky dressing to protect it from injury.
  • Your care team will encourage you to get up and begin walking as soon as the wound allows.

When you return home, do the following to help ensure a smooth recovery:

  • You may need to wear a cast, a special postoperative shoe or a regular shoe with the foot box removed until the stitches are taken out about three weeks later.
  • Ask your doctor about when it's safe to shower, bathe or soak in water.
  • Your doctor may advise you when to begin exercise, physical therapy or a rehabilitation program.

Are There Complications from Amputations?

Possible complications could include:

  • Difficulty healing
  • Infection
  • Severe pain in the remaining tissue
  • Phantom limb pain (a painful sensation that the foot or toe is still there)
  • Continued spread of gangrene, requiring amputation of more areas of your foot, toes or leg
  • Bleeding
  • Nerve damage
  • Limp or trouble walking
  • Contracture deformity

Factors that may increase the risk of complications include:

  • Smoking
  • Infection
  • Poorly controlled diabetes
  • Poor blood circulation
  • Bleeding disorders
  • Heart problems or high blood pressure
  • Smoking
  • Kidney failure
  • Obesity
  • Advanced age

Make an Appointment

Call 434.243.3675.


Content was created using EBSCO’s Health Library. Edits to original content made by Rector and Visitors of the University of Virginia. This information is not a substitute for professional medical advice.

Make an Appointment

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