Some thoughts on removing limbs and body parts…

Thoughts on amputation of a dogs leg by a vet student

There are times when I find myself wondering just what we actually do and found myself there again today. I’ve always had the image of surgery being a beautiful act of fixing things, making animals better. Yet today I kept a dog sleeping comfortably under anaesthesia whilst I watched a surgeon remove its leg. The other week I watched a surgeon remove part of a bone, the sound of the saw making it definite.

For some reason when I imagined surgery this isn’t what came to my mind. Surgeons putting things back together, suturing vessels, intestines or constructing metal frames around limbs. This happens a lot of the time, however there are times like today when I just start to wonder.

When I actually think about it, we often remove parts of an animal’s body during surgery, whether that is the uterus and ovaries or even a tumour. All of these are routine and I have never considered it fully before. I guess here I think it is that the animal will not miss these parts though, with good pain management the animal may not realise even that there had been surgery.

Now when it becomes a leg I guess it just takes a different perspective as I am pretty sure an animal may miss it… And worse that the animal has come walking in with 4 legs, yet will be waking up with a leg missing. Sure there won’t be pain, I gave the morphine that ensures that, but when the dog tries to stand it stumbles and falls. Unlike ovaries or a tumour, it actually notices that a leg is missing… That is before you consider things in humans such as phantom limb syndrome and then wonder if animals can also suffer from this… If they do then they can’t say…

This is where for me a beautiful art really does become a little less beautiful…

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