Sometimes as a result of an accident, you suffer an immediate amputation. This might be of a limb or smaller body part, such as a finger or toe. When this happens, Medline Plus explains that it is a traumatic amputation. This is in opposition to a planned amputation where a surgeon removes the body part.
A traumatic amputation is not always complete. It might involve some connection remaining of soft tissue. It also does not mean that the body part is a total loss. In some cases, a doctor will be able to reattach the severed part. It largely depends on the treatment right after the injury.
Saving the severed part requires quick thinking and proper storage of the part. It is very easy to cause damage to the body or the body part that makes reattachment impossible or not feasible. A common misconception, for example, is to place a severed body part in ice. What you should really do is first put it in a plastic bag and then in the ice.
However, at the time of the initial injury, the immediate concern is ensuring that you do not suffer excessive blood loss or go into shock. It is important to get emergency medical care right away as both of these are serious issues that could lead to death.
Following the injury, the main concern, regardless of treatment, is infection. Consistent medical care requires monitoring the area to assure the reattached part is healthy or that the amputation site is free of infection. The long-term prognosis often depends on keeping away infection and prompting quick healing.