One of the risks following amputation surgery is oedema. This is a swelling caused by fluid trapped in the tissues of the stump, and is a common occurrence after a limb amputation.
The best way of controlling oedema is by bandaging the stump, and you will be taught the correct technique to use since it is you, the amputee, who will be expected to carry out this task. This is because under normal circumstances the bandage should be changed between four and six times every day, and at intervals of four to six hours. Whatever the circumstances, the bandage should never be left in place for longer than twelve hours, since this can cause complications. If at any time you should experience throbbing of the stump, you should take steps to immediately remove the bandage and rewrap it.
Bandaging is done with standard 4-inch wide elastic bandages, one or two being sufficient for the average adult. While you are bandaging the stump the elastic bandage should be kept at two thirds of its maximum stretch, so try testing this out with a short length of bandage before starting the technique.
Refer to the accompanying graphics when practicing the following bandaging technique, and remember to keep the bandage at approximately two thirds of its maximum stretch.
- Hold the end of the bandage on the inside of the thigh above the knee and unroll it so that it passes diagonally down the outer side of the stump, around the rear of the stump.
- Pass the bandage over the end of the stump at the inner side, then diagonally upwards over the outer side of the stump, behind the knee and around the inside of the thigh to your starting point above the kneecap.
- Continue around the back of the knee, diagonally down the inside and then the front of the stump so that it passes over the end of the stump on the outside.
- Continue in the same way until the whole of the stump is covered with bandage and the bandage is used up. Hold the end of the bandage in place with the special clips that you have been given. The bandage should be tightest where it passes over the end of the stump.
Remember that the bandage should be removed from the stump and replaced every four to six hours, and should never be left on for more than twelve hours.