Amputation is a term in surgery, and signifies the cutting: off a limb from the body. It is sometimes rendered necesssary when a part is so diseased as either to be or incatening danger, if not removed. The cases in which this operation is usually performed, seere, compound fractures of the bones, attended with splinters; extensive la-tions, and contusions of wounds, with great loss of substance, and pouring forth a profuse discharge; de - spreading mortifications ; white swellings of the joints; cancers, or other incurable ulcers ; exostosed, carious and distorted bones, etc.
Amputation is one of the most important operations in surgery, and has lately been brought to the highest perfection. Previous to the invention of the tourniquet, and the method of securing the bloodvessels from hemorrhages, by ligatures, it was rarely undertaken, and a great proportion of those who submitted to it, afterwards died. But in consequence of modern improvements, there seldom happens more than one death in twenty or thirty cases. In performing this operation, some parti-' cular cautions are necessary, viz. to make the incision at a proper place; to save a quantity of skin and cellular substance, sufficient to cover the muscles and bone completely, without being stretched; to prevent hemorrhages ; to secure the arteries carefully, without including the nerves, or any of the contiguous parts; and to prevent retraction of the integuments. Where part of a limb is cither caron, or much shattered, it will be necessary to amputate above the surface, to ensure a speedy and safer cure. Should moration have previously taken every other remedy ought be timely and vigorously ployed, till its progress be arrested : the first symptom of which will be, an inflamed circle separating the diseased from the sound parts : as soon as this has taken place, no time should be lost in resorting to the operation, lest the patient suffer from the absorption of putrescent matter, which readily occasions a hectic fever.
As the privation of a limb, and the great destruction of animal parts, are often attended with fatal , consequences, nothing but extreme necessity, or the failure of all other means, can justify the choice of this formidable expedient. S eminent authorities have altogether questioned its utility; and M. Bil-guer, late surgeon-general to the Prussian armies, in his observations on this subject, declares, "that the cases in which amputation is necessary, are less frequent than has hitherto been supposed." He says, that during the late war, it proved unsuccessful in a variety of instances; and that he himself had, without resorting to operations, cured many patients, whose limbs had been so much braised and shattered, that the ablest surgeons thought it advisable to ( ploy their instruments.—See TOURNIQUET.