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What is a Hemipelvectomy?

Mary McMahon
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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A hemipelvectomy is a surgical procedure in which one leg and a portion of the pelvis are removed. The range of a hemipelvectomy can vary, with some procedures involving a removal of half of the pelvis, while others require removal of less than half. This surgery can be very traumatic for the patient, and is used as a treatment of last resort; when a surgeon recommends a hemipelvectomy, in other words, he or she thinks that it is necessary for the patient.

This is one of the rarest amputations. Patients typically receive a hemipelvectomy because of a cancer which cannot be treated in any other way, or because of a traumatic accident such as a crush injury on a factory floor or a severe car accident. In a traumatic hemipelvectomy, the patient's pelvis and leg may have been so severely damaged that a surgeon feels they cannot be reconnected, and that it would be better for the patient to amputate and avoid the risk of infection.

In some cases, a surgeon may be able to perform an internal hemipelvectomy, also known as a “limb salvage” procedure. In this case, part of the pelvis is removed, but the limb is left intact, and the surgeon may implant an artificial joint or prosthesis. The level of functionality for the patient after this procedure can vary, with some patients experiencing total loss of use of the limb, while others may be able to retain some function. Surgeons also need to monitor the site in case the need for a full amputation emerges.

In a bilateral hemipelvectomy, both limbs are removed. Another procedure, known as a hip disarticulation, involves total removal of the leg at the hip joint, with the pelvis left intact. In some cases, part of the hip joint may be left in place for stabilization or comfort. This procedure is also very traumatic for the patient and can require an extensive recovery time.

After a hemipelvectomy, a patient is usually encouraged to attend physical therapy. Patients can learn to walk with crutches or prosthetics, and may enjoy a high level of freedom of movement, rather than being confined to a wheelchair or to bed. Recovery rates vary, depending on the patient, the need for the amputation, and the amputation procedure itself. Patients who have undergone hemipelvectomies can sometimes benefit from joining a support group which provides information about everything from tips and tricks for patients living without a leg to a friendly person to talk to.

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Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a The Health Board researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments
By anon352959 — On Oct 26, 2013

I had a Hemicorporectomy in May of 2010. That is like a hemipelvectomy except they have to remove both legs, hips, pelvis, female organs inside and outside, butt, and bladder. There are around 26 of us alive in the world.

By anon331088 — On Apr 20, 2013

I am a 66 year old,female. At age five I had cancer and had a hemipelvectomy. Dr. B.L. Aronoff performed my amputation. The surgery was done at Baylor Hospital in Dallas, TX. I became a nurse. I had a baby and I carried him the full nine months. He weighed 7 pounds and 9 ounces. I had him by natural childbirth. Today I am retired.

Dr. Aronoff has passed away. When I share my testimony, I tell people Jesus, my Jewish Savior saved my soul and my Jewish Doctor saved my life. --Saundra

By starrynight — On Feb 20, 2012

A friend of mine is a physical therapist, and she sometimes assists patients that have gone through amputation. As the article said, sometimes the recovery process can be long, but physical therapy really helps.

It also helps if the patients has a positive attitude and actually does the exercises. Having a good support system (and someone at home to remind them to do their exercises) can sometimes make all the difference in a patients recovery.

I'll have to ask my friend if she's ever seen a patient that's had a hemipelvectomy. I'm curious if she would have them do different exercises than someone who has had a less extreme amputation.

By indemnifyme — On Feb 19, 2012

@KaBoom - I think a support group could help someone after a traumatic amputation too. Not only is the operation itself probably traumatic, but something had to cause them to need the operation. Whether it was cancer or a scary accident, I could see someone having PTSD after having this operation.

I'm kind of amazed that someone who has had a hemipelvectomy can use a prosthesis, but I'm glad to hear they can. I always picture a prosthesis as being shaped around the remainder of the persons limb.

With a hemipelvectomy, there isn't really any more limb left. I suppose they probably have to design a special prosthesis for people who have had this operation.

By KaBoom — On Feb 18, 2012

I'm not surprised that hemipelvectomy amputation is one of the rarest kinds. It sounds so extreme to remove the leg and half of the pelvis as well. But I guess if it's a question of either removing the leg and the pelvis or having the patient die, I can see why a doctor would choose to do this operation.

I definitely think someone that has been through this could benefit from a support group. It can't be easy to lose part of your leg, but to lose your entire leg and your hip, and have to go through extensive recovery? I can't imagine!

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

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