Limb Amputation (not tumor)

Auto Text: “Insert Amputation AKA” or “Insert Amputation BKA”

Specimens include AKA (Above the Knee Amputation) and BKA (Below the Knee Amputation). These are usually performed for peripheral vascular disease, diabetes complicated by gangrene, or trauma. Check clinical history / radiology to determine the reason for amputation and if osteomyelitis is suspected.


  1. Should be cut fresh.
  2. If received late in the day, you can store limbs in the refrigerator until the next working day. Keep the requisition on the counter so that staff knows a limb is awaiting gross examination the next day.
  3. Once grossing is complete, place the dissected limb back in original bag (if not torn) with the patient label visible. Return the limb to the refrigerator.
  4. After Hours: If the OR calls/pages after hours and asks for someone to pick up an amputation specimen, ask them to hold the specimen in the OR specimen refrigerator and send it to surgpath the following morning.


  1. Describe procedure (AKA or BKA) and note if there has been a prior amputation.
  2. If foot is present, measure length and note side (right or left).
  3. Measure length of leg.
  4. Measure length of thigh if applicable.
  5. Measure length/diameter of bone at resection margin: tibia and fibula for BKA; femur for AKA.
  6. Describe skin, soft tissue, and arteries at resection margin and submit a representative soft tissue/skin margin section.
  7. Describe and measure any skin lesions: ulceration, gangrene, missing digits, surgical incisions (including grafts and previous surgical amputation sites). Submit representative section of skin lesion(s).
  8. Dissect and serially section the popliteal (if present), posterior and anterior tibial arteries every few millimeters, looking for calcification, luminal narrowing or thrombi. Submit representative section of each at the narrowest point.
    • TIPS for dissecting arteries: The posterior tibial artery runs behind the medial malleolus and up the leg, deep to the muscles.  Make a cut posterior to the medial malleolus, identify the neurovascular bundle, and continue your cut superiorly.  Or follow it distally from the popliteal artery. The anterior tibial artery runs just against the lateral surface of the tibia, deep to the muscles.  Make a deep cut along the lateral tibia and identify the neurovascular bundle.
  9. If osteomyelitis is suspected (by clinicians, by radiology, or by your gross exam), submit any grossly suspicious bone or bone in the area of radiographic suspicion, following fixation and decalcification. Usually this bone will be softened and/or discolored grey-green. It may be located under a skin ulcer or necrotic soft tissue. If osteomyelitis is NOT suspected, NO BONE NEEDS TO BE SUBMITTED AT ALL.
  10. If the suspected osteomyelitis is located in a bone that is NOT the margin bone (i.e., usually a foot or ankle bone), bone margin need not be submitted. If the osteomyelitis is located in the transected marginal bone (the femur in an AKA or tibia/fibula in a BKA), then bone margin should be submitted, following fixation and decalcification. Otherwise, bone margin is not necessary.
  11. Be sure to state “after EDTA decalcification” or “after HCl decalcification” in your cassette summary and add a Decal stain (appears as “Decalcification process” NOT “H&E Decalcification”) in Beaker. One order per container will suffice, as the only result of ordering the “stain” is to drop a billing charge.

Updated 2/14/24 NAC

Print Friendly, PDF & Email