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Author: Mikael Häggström [note 1]
For an amputated toe or finger:


On this resource, the following formatting is used for comprehensiveness:

  • Minimal depth
  • (Moderate depth)
  • ((Comprehensive))
Other legend

<< Decision needed between alternatives separated by / signs >>
{{Common findings / In case of findings}}
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Intitial processing

  • Measure length and average diameter
  • Determine the anatomic location of the cut (proximal to the distal phalanx, middle phalanx, metatarsal phalangeal joint etc).
  • Look at soft tissue margins whether they look viable or necrotic.
  • Look at the skin surface. For any lesion such as ulcerated or necrotic one, measure the distance to the nearest soft tissue margin.
  • Ink the surgical margins differently for soft tissue and bony margin(, including if the bony margin is a joint surface ("cartilaginous margin").)
Amputated finger after longitudinal split.
  • Split the digit longitudinally, either in the midline or at the closest margin between any ulcer and the soft tissue margin.
  • Let the tissue fix in formalin and then use a relatively strong decalcifying agent, usually at least 5-6 hours.

Tissue selection

Sections for microscopy are taken as follows:

For amputations disarticulated at the joint:

  • Perpendicular sections of the articular cartilage and adjacent bone. State which bone in key of sections.

For amputations resected by cutting across bone:

  • Ink the bone at the proximal margin, submit perpendicular section of bony margin.

Gangrene and/or suspected osteomyelitis:

  • Submit cross sections of each bone with associated ulcer and/or gangrene if appropriate, generally sagittal/longitudinal. Attempt to include the longitudinal distance from potential osteomyelitis to the proximal bony/cartilaginous margin.
  • Skin and soft tissues at proximal margin.
  • If margin is close to gangrene: perpendicular sections
  • If far, submit en face[note 2]

At least if osteomyelitis is suspected, ink all proximal (and/)or distal cut surfaces (differentially) of each slice, so that the pieces can be oriented, and the distance between osteomyelitis and the surgical margin can be estimated. The exception is where pieces can most definitely be anatomically oriented, such as the presence of a nail distally.

Gross report


(A. Labeled - ___. The specimen is received in formalin and consists of an amputated toe/finger.) The digit measures ___ cm in length and ___ cm in average diameter. The digit is resected ___ [[location]]. {{The proximal ___ cm of the specimen is not covered by skin and soft tissue.}} The skin and soft tissue margins appear <viable / necrotic>. The skin surface of the digit appears ___ {{and displays an (ulcerated/necrotic/gangrenous) lesion, cm from the cutaneous margin}}. The nail is <color/thickened/absent/necrotic>. The soft tissue surgical margin is inked blue [[for example]], and the <<bony surgical / cartilaginous>> margin of the ___ [[specific bone involved]] is inked green [[for example]]. On cut sections, the bone subjacent to the ulcer shows no gross abnormalities. Representative sections are submitted for microscopic examination in ___ cassettes following decalcification.
Key to sections:
  1. Longitudinal section through distal phalanx
  2. Longitudinal section through proximal phalanx, including <<bony surgical / cartilaginous>> margin
  3. Skin and soft tissues at proximal margin, submitted en face

Microscopic examination

Mainly, detect the presence of:

Microscopic report


(A. Left third toe, amputation:)
Toe with ulcer, gangrene and osteomyelitis. Osteomyelitis involves the distal phalanx, middle phalanx and proximal phalanx.
Osteomyelitis is 2.0 cm from the proximal articular surface of the proximal phalanx.
(The skin and soft tissue at the surgical margin appear viable.)

See also


  1. For a full list of contributors, see article history. Creators of images are attributed at the image description pages, seen by clicking on the images. See Patholines:Authorship for details.
  2. En face means that the section is tangential to the region of interest (such as a lesion) of a specimen. Further information: Gross_processing#Cutting

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