The biomechanics of trans-femoral amputation

F A Gottschalk, M Stills
Prosthetics and Orthotics International 1994, 18 (1): 12-7
The biomechanics of trans-femoral amputations has not been previously described. Little attention has been paid to the importance of adductor magnus in holding the femur in its normal anatomical axis. Loss of function of adductor magnus leads to abduction of the residual femur, in a trans-femoral amputation. A cadaver study of the adductor group of thigh muscles has been done and the biomechanical importance of these muscles is documented. The moment arms of the three adductor muscles have been determined, based on muscle attachments and muscle size, relative to each other. Adductor magnus has a major mechanical advantage in holding the thigh in its normal anatomical position. Loss of the distal third of its attachment results in a 70% loss of the effective moment arm of the muscle, which contributes to the abducted femur in standard trans-femoral amputations. A muscle preserving trans-femoral amputation, which keeps adductor magnus intact, prevents abduction of the residual femur and may allow for easier walking with a prosthesis. The conflicting reports about adductor magnus activity during the gait cycle can be explained by this muscle's dual innervation by the sciatic and obturator nerves and its dual function as a hip adductor and extensor.


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