Upper Limb Amputation Levels

Upper Limb Amputation Levels

In this article, we will understand the different types of Upper Limb Amputation Levels. But before we move to the details. Let’s understand what exactly is an Upper Limb Amputation.

What is Amputation?

Amputation means when a surgeon cuts down a limb or a part of it. This is mainly done when the limb has an infection or is rendered useless. Generally, the process is done on foot, toe, leg, or arm. When done on foot, toe it is known as lower limb amputation whereas when done on arm, hand it is termed as upper limb amputation.
Upper Limb Amputation Level
Also Read: Types of Amputation

8 Upper Limb Amputation Levels:

  1. Forequarter amputation (Above Shoulder)
  2. Shoulder disarticulation (From Shoulder)
  3. Trans-humeral amputation (Above Elbow)
  4. Elbow disarticulation (From Elbow)
  5. Transradial amputation (Below Elbow)
  6. Wrist disarticulation (From Wrist)
  7. Partial Hand (Below Wrist)
  8. Finger Amputation

1. Above Shoulder Amputation (Forequarter Amputation)

In this case, the area above the shoulder is amputated i.e. the complete shoulder is removed and also part of the shoulder blade and collarbone. This type of amputation is rare and the prosthetics solutions are not easy. Since in this case, there are no residual limbs and thus stability & suspension becomes a challenge. It also includes replicating the function and form of the entire arm. All 3 joints should be perfect in size, proportion and should function as expected.

Also Read: How Sam Rosecrans Overcame this condition with perfect prosthetics 

2. Shoulder disarticulation (From Shoulder Amputation)

Unliked the above shoulder amputation, the entire arm is removed from the shoulder joint. During this process, no bones are cut. It is comparatively less complicated than the first case but not a very straight one. In most cases, a myoelectric-controlled prosthesis (artificial limb controlled by signals of your brain) is used for rehabilitation.

3. Above Elbow Amputation (Trans-humeral)

In this case, the amputation is done above the elbow joint. There are 3 sub-levels

  1. Metaphyseal: high amputation (near shoulder joint)
  2. Diaphyseal: mid-upper arm amputation
  3. Supracondylar: near the elbow joint 

4. Elbow disarticulation (From Elbow)

Here the amputation is performed from the elbow joint. It is also known as the separation of the lower arm from the upper. Just like the shoulder disarticulation no bones are cut during this amputation process.

5. Transradial amputation (Below Elbow)

It is a partial amputation below the elbow. In this type, the elbow and most part of the arm remains intact. This makes the rehabilitation and prosthesis for the affected part easy.

6. Wrist disarticulation (From Wrist)

Here the amputation is done from the wrist. Just like elbow disarticulation and shoulder disarticulation, this process does not involve any cutting of the bones.

7. Partial Hand (Below Wrist)

In this case, the wrist is kept intact, only a portion below the wrist is removed. Some users prefer not to use any prosthesis in such cases. Then there are other options such as passive partial hand prosthesis, body-powered partial hand prosthesis, electrically powered partial hand prosthesis & hybrid partial hand prosthesis.

8. Fingers

In this case, fingers are removed either by accident or due to infection. It can be either complete or partial amputation. This is the least severe upper limb amputation. Often if the number of fingers removed are not high, then a cosmetic prosthesis is used.


The above 8 types of upper limb amputation levels are seen in most cases. There are different types of prosthesis solutions available for each of these times. Wrist disarticulation (From Wrist), Partial Hand (Below Wrist), and Finger Amputation are less severe when compared to the other 5 levels.