Amputation is a measure sometimes necessary to preserve life from the consequences of disease or injury; but is justifiable only when it can be clearly settled beyond all reasonable doubt that recovery cannot take place by other means, or that the injury or inconvenience occasioned by the disease or deformity will be greater without the operation than with it. An operation of this kind must of course be left to the experienced surgeon, except in cases of emergency in which a limb has been so badly mangled by machinery or otherwise that it is held to the body by only a few shreds of tissue, which may be readily divided with a pair of scissors.

Operations of this kind were formerly among the most formidable in surgery on account of the severe pain and the great loss of blood attendant upon them; but the discovery of anaesthetics has abolished the necessity for suffering, and by the use of Esmarch's bandage (see Fig. 391), the operation is now an almost bloodless one. In amputating a leg, a short time ago, in which the anaemic condition of the patient made it important that as little blood as possible should be lost, the hemorrhage amounted to scarcely an ounce during the whole operation.

Fig. 391. Amputation of the Arm.

Fig. 391. Amputation of the Arm.

It is needless to give in a work like this directions for the performance of the various forms of amputations required in different portions of the body.