Hemicorporectomy

Hemicorporectomy is the most extreme amputation performed by doctors. In this surgery, the lower half of the body is removed, around the waist. Although it is called the hemicorporectomy, a more correct term would be the paracorporectomy, as hemi- implies left vs. right, whereas para- implies top vs. bottom. This amputation is performed as an extreme last resort, for people with extreme hip/lower body traumas or diseases.

Procedure

The procedure for performing a hemicorporectomy consists of two surgeries. In the first surgery, an ileal conduit (bladder) and colostomy (intestines) are created. In the second surgery, the amputation is performed. Occasionally, the two surgeries are done at the same time.

Post-operation problems

After the operation, the heart must develop a new blood pressure point, as the enormous loss of blood volume leads to a reset. Also, due to the loss of portions of the intestines, there may be problems with the body receiving enough ions/electrolytes, which causes dehydration and other systemic problems. It is hard to determine how well the kidneys are functioning, as the formula used to determine kidney function does not work when a patient loses as much of their body as a hemicorporectomy patient loses.

Traumatic Hemicorporectomy

In the event that someone loses more then half of their body in an accident, most hospitals will refuse to attempt to resuscitate or give life support to the patient. Hospitals see the condition as incompatible with life, due to the blood loss and potential for infection.

Prosthetics

After the procedure, hemicorporectomy patients are generally fitted with a prosthetic, referred to as a bucket. Problems with the prosthetic have related to pressure problems, and overheating problems, as the prosthetic prevents a large area of skin from breathing. Currently, there is a fair deal of research and development of improved prosthetics that use air bubbles to deal with pressure problems, and different materials to deal with the overheating problem.

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