The National Amputation Foundation (NAF) would like to invite amputees to share their experiences, helpful hints and insights. We hope to establish dialog between amputees so that people who have had, or are facing an amputation, will be able to reach those that have gone through a similar experience.

Please send any article, thoughts and/or comments to our office at:
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NAF reserves the right to edit for content all articles submitted. The opinions expressed are those of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the National Amputation Foundation.


Jon D. Lee The Below the Knee Amputee 4/17/2012

Are you a Below the Knee Amputee (BK) or about to become one? Do you have pain when you walk on your artificial leg? Would you like to live a more normal life being an amputee? Have you heard of the Ertl for BK amputees? The way your amputation surgery is performed plays a very important role in your ability to use a prosthesis! You should ask your surgeon about an Ertl amputation. If your surgeon has not heard of this surgery you need to find a surgeon who knows about this surgery and has performed several surgeries. You may not be a candidate for this surgery with certain other medical conditions but if you are very active and you plan to get back to being as active as you once were, or even more active, it is so important that you research this surgery option. The Ertl surgery is the standard amputation surgery most injured veterans receive and this is a big reason they are able to return to such an active lifestyle, trust me, I know from firsthand experience

Hi, Iím Jon Lee. Over 40 years ago I was in a vehicle that got blown up while I was serving in the Army in Vietnam. The main injury I received was the loss of my right leg, below the knee (BK). I spent a year in Valley Forge General Hospital in Pennsylvania. Fortunate for me the loss of my leg turned out to be an easy to live with limitation. I can thank this to an operation I received on my amputated leg called an Ertl. To me the Ertl is a saving grace for all BK amputees. I have been told that the Ertl operation is commonly performed on most military amputees today but it is called a bone block rather than an Ertl. In the civilian world this type of surgery is seldom performed. You can change that with your insistence upon this type of leg operation.

Normally when a BK amputation is performed the two bones in the lower part of the leg are left there to dangle. When youíre fitted with an artificial leg all of your weight must be supported with the area around the knee. The end of your stump is very sensitive to any type of pressure and is prone to sores. Your stump cannot support any weight on the end, leg fit is critical, and you will constantly need to visits to your prosthetic repair man for minor adjustments.

With the Ertl operation a bone is placed between the two lower bones in your amputated leg. Then the leg muscle is wrapped around the end of the stump. When the artificial leg is made approximately 60-100% of your body weight will be carried on the end of the stump without pain. Without the Ertl surgery NO weight can be placed on the end of the stump without pain. The overall fitting of your artificial leg is less critical and most minor misfits can be corrected with variations of stump sock thicknesses.

The disadvantage of having the Ertl operation performed on someone is that it takes a little longer, after surgery, for the stump to heal before you can be fitted with your first artificial leg. I know of no other disadvantages and your gain a lifetime of benefits.

If you are a BK amputee and are having leg problems I suggest you check out having an Ertl performed on your leg. If you know any BK amputees please talk to them. If you know of someone about to become a BK amputee share this information with them.

Do a Google search on the Ertl to find out more and review the website developed by the Ertl brothers, who are all surgeons.

There are several doctors qualified to perform an Ertl... Want to talk to someone? Try nashvilleprosthetics.com. I spoke with several people at this clinic and was very impressed with all of them.

One last thought: who is the most important person in your life with respect to your leg amputation? Do you think it is the Doctor who performs the surgery? My answer to this is no, it is not the doctor it is your prosthetic man. As soon as the doctor amputates your leg they are through with you. The prosthetic man has to take what the doctor gives him and make a leg you can walk on. Maybe all of the doctors should work very closely with the prosthetic people.

These are my opinions only. I hope they help at least one person.

Jon D. Lee