Am I a Candidate for Limb Salvage Surgery?

Am I a Candidate for Limb Salvage Surgery?

Unfortunately, amputation sometimes becomes a consideration when other treatments fail to eliminate infections and other foot and ankle conditions related to chronic disease or trauma.

Limb salvage surgery and reconstruction is an intricate and delicate procedure that offers an effective alternative to amputation.

Double-board certified surgeon Thomas Rambacher, DPM, FACFAS, FAPWCA, at Foot Ankle Leg Wound Care Orange County in Mission Viejo, California, has significant expertise in preventing foot amputation through limb salvage surgery and reconstruction.

As one of the few podiatrists in the region who specializes in this advanced surgical procedure, Dr. Rambacher is happy to offer insight regarding limb salvage surgery and if you might be a good candidate.

What is limb salvage surgery?

Limb salvage surgery, also known as limb-sparing surgery, involves removing the diseased part of your limb and reconstructing the missing portions to preserve its function and appearance. This surgery can be an alternative to amputation.

Your foot and ankle have an intricate network of bones, muscles, tendons, and blood vessels. A podiatrist specializing in foot and ankle medicine and surgery is well-equipped to tackle the challenges of limb salvage in these regions.

Why would I need limb salvage surgery?

Limb salvage surgery is a consideration when large amounts of soft tissue or bone must be removed from your foot or ankle to prevent or treat life-threatening illnesses such as gangrene (tissue death) or cancer. 

For instance, complications related to poorly controlled diabetes are a leading cause of non-traumatic lower limb amputations. These complications include an increased risk of nerve damage (neuropathy) and circulatory problems that interfere with healing.

This can lead to diabetic foot ulcers and other chronic wounds that fail to respond to treatment, resulting in widespread, deep infections that may lead to tissue death (gangrene). At this point, limb salvage surgery may offer an alternative to amputation.

Other conditions that can lead to limb salvage surgery include:

Peripheral arterial disease (PAD)

PAD causes narrowing or blockage of the arteries in your legs or feet. This can cause poor blood flow, leading to persistent swelling (edema), non-healing skin sores (ulcers), or gangrene.


Osteomyelitis is a bone infection that can spread through your bloodstream. It may develop as a complication of trauma, such as a deep puncture wound or expanding diabetic foot ulcer that exposes your involved bone to surface germs.


Limb salvage surgery and reconstruction may be an alternative to amputation when tumor excision requires the removal of large areas of bone or soft tissue in your foot.

Am I a good candidate for limb salvage surgery?

Dr. Rambacher considers several factors before recommending limb salvage surgery and reconstruction, including:

  • Your overall health and ability to withstand surgery
  • The severity of your infection or tissue damage
  • The location and extent of your ulcer or wound
  • Whether there is adequate blood flow to your affected foot

Your commitment to postoperative care, including wound care, rehabilitation, and follow-up visits, is also crucial to the procedure's success.

Schedule an evaluation with Dr. Rambacher today for more information about our podiatry services, including limb salvage surgery as an alternative to amputation. Call our office or request an appointment online.