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Leg or foot amputation - dressing change



You will need to change the dressing on your limb. This will help your stump heal and stay healthy.

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Gather the supplies you will need to change your dressing, and place them on a clean work area. You will need:

  • Paper tape
  • Scissors
  • Gauze pads or clean wash cloths to clean and dry your wound
  • Adaptic dressing. This is a dressing that does not stick to the wound.
  • 4-inch by 4-inch gauze pad or 5-inch by 9-inch abdominal dressing pad (ABD)
  • Gauze wraps or Kling roll
  • Plastic bag
  • A basin for water and soap to clean your hands while changing the dressings
Taking off the Old Dressing

Take off your old dressing only if your doctor has told you to. Wash your hands with soap and warm water. Rinse with warm water and dry with a clean towel.

Remove the elastic bandages from the stump, and set them aside. Put a clean towel under your leg before you take the old dressing off. Remove the tape. Unwind the outer wrap, or cut off the outer dressing with clean scissors.

Gently remove the dressing from the wound. If the dressing is stuck, wet it with tap water, wait 3 to 5 minutes for it to loosen, and remove it. Place the old dressing in the plastic bag.

Wound Care

Wash your hands again. Use soap and water on a gauze pad or a clean cloth to wash your wound. Start at one end of the wound and clean it to the other end. Be sure to wash away any drainage or dried blood. Do not scrub the wound hard.

Pat the wound gently with a dry gauze pad or a clean towel to dry it from one end to the other. Inspect the wound for redness, drainage, or swelling.

Placing the New Dressing

Cover the wound with the dressing. Put on the adaptic dressing first. Then follow with a gauze pad or ABD pad. Wrap with the gauze or Kling roll to hold the dressing in place.

Tape the end of the dressing to hold it in place. Be sure to tape onto the dressing and not onto the skin. Put the elastic bandage on around the stump.

Clean up the work area and place the old dressing in the trash. Wash your hands.

When to Call the Doctor

Call your doctor if:

  • Your stump looks redder or there are red streaks on your skin going up your leg.
  • Your skin feels warmer to touch.
  • There is swelling or bulging around the wound.
  • There is new drainage or bleeding from the wound.
  • There are new openings in the wound and the skin around the wound is pulling away.
  • Your temperature above 101.5° F more than one time.
  • The skin around the stump or wound is dark or it is turning black.
  • Your pain is worse, and your pain medicines are not controlling it.
  • Your wound has gotten larger.

Heck RK. General principles of amputations. In: Canale ST, Beatty JH, eds. Campbell's Operative Orthopaedics. 11th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Mosby Elsevier; 2007:chap 9.

Review Date: 11/10/2008
Reviewed By: C. Benjamin Ma, MD, Assistant Professor, Chief, Sports Medicine and Shoulder Service, UCSF Dept of Orthopaedic Surgery. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.
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