A finger amputation is the removal of all or part of a finger from a person's hand. Reasons for a finger amputation might include a tumor, severe injury, severe trauma, gangrene, frostbite or infection, among others. In some cases, the finger might be reattached after amputation. In others, the patient might choose to use a prosthesis to restore the finger's functionality or simply go without full use of the finger.
If a person experiences a finger amputation during an accident with a sharp object or through another traumatic event, he or she should clean the amputated portion of the finger, cover it in gauze and place it in a watertight plastic bag. The bag should be kept on ice, but the amputated finger should not come into direct contact with the ice. The injury site should be cleaned, iced, elevated and wrapped with a sterile dressing. Immobilization of the hand and/or wrist through he use of a splint or sling might also be necessary. A person who experiences an accidental amputation should immediately seek medical attention to avoid the complete loss of the digit.
After an accidental finger amputation, a doctor will clean and evaluate the wound and decide whether reattachment is a viable option. Reattachment is more easily done in young children. In some cases, the doctor might need to cover the wound with healthy skin from the same hand to help it heal properly. A finger splint might be recommended to keep the finger immobilized while it heals.
During a surgical amputation because of other injury or disease, a person might undergo a digital amputation, which usually involves leaving part of the finger behind as a stump. The goal of the surgeon would be to provide a painless stump that does not impede the function of the rest of the hand. If this is not possible, a ray amputation might be performed. This more complicated and invasive surgery involves the removal of the finger bone down to the wrist, eventually giving the appearance that the finger was never a part of the hand.
After a finger amputation of any kind, complications could include pain, swelling and infection. A patient might need to undergo physical therapy to rebuild functionality in the remaining portion of the finger and hand. Some people find that the finger or stump is more sensitive to touch, and other people lose sensitivity.