Lower limb, or leg, amputations can be divided into two broad categories – minor amputations and major amputations, Minor amputations generally refers to the amputation of digits. Major amputations are commonly referred to as below-knee amputation, above-knee amputation and so forth. To avoid ambiguity the correct terminology for major amputations is described in ISO 8549-2:1989, these being:

  • partial foot amputation – amputation of the lower limb distal to the ankle joint.
  • ankle disarticulation – amputation of the lower limb at the ankle joint.
  • trans-tibial amputation – amputation of the lower limb between the knee joint and the ankle joint, commonly referred to as a below-knee amputation.
  • knee disarticulation – amputation of the lower limb at the knee joint.
  • trans-femoral amputation – amputation of the lower limb between the hip joint and the knee joint, commonly referred to an above-knee amputation.
  • hip disarticulation – amputation of the lower limb at the hip joint.
  • trans-pelvic disarticulation- amputation of the whole lower limb together with all or part of the pelvis.This is also known as a hemipelvectomy or hindquarter amputation.

Common partial foot amputations include Chopart, Lisfranc and ray amputations, Common forms of ankle disarticulations include Syme, Pyrogoff and Boyd. A less commonly occurring major amputation is the Van Ness rotation/rotationplasty (foot being turned around and reattached to allow the ankle joint to be used as a knee).