Below Elbow Amputation

An amputation below the elbow removes the forearm with preservation of the elbow joint. There are two general types of surgical procedure for amputation: (1) the closed or “flap” amputation and (2) the open or “guillotine” amputation. The latter is often required when infection is present and there is a need for free drainage from the operative site. A second surgical procedure involving stump (or residual limb) revision or closure is needed after the guillotine procedure.


A Below Elbow (BE) prosthesis can be customized to the patients specific lifestyle, like work, home and play. Different terminal devices include; cosmetic hands, hooks, tool attachments, etc. A body powered, or conventional, prosthesis uses body movements to operate the terminal device (hand or hook). The prosthesis is connected to the body through the use of cables and a harness. By movements of the shoulders and the arms, the person can open and close the terminal device. A myoelectric prosthesis uses muscles of the affected arm to control the opening and closing of the terminal device. Electrodes are fit within the prosthesis. By contracting the muscles of the arm which formerly controlled the opening and closing of an anatomical hand, electrical outputs are sent to a motor that open and close an artificial hand.