A hemipelvectomy is a removal of half of a person’s pelvis. Most of the time hemipelvectomies are done as a result of invasive cancer or cancerous tumors. Hemi means “half” and “pelv” refers to of your pelvis or pelvis girdle. In an external hemipelvectomy your leg is removed and in an internal hemipelvectomy half of your pelvic girdle or pelvis is removed.
As with any operation on the night before do not eat or drink anything for 12 hours prior to surgery because you will be receiving anesthesia and there is a danger of gagging on food. It is also important to bathe or shower the night before. The day of surgery involves using your common sense. For example, you would not wear make up or nail polish and you will probably wear support stockings on your non-surgical leg to prevent blood clots. An intravenous line will be started and you will be asked to empty your bladder and to remove all jewelry. Your friends or relatives will be shown where to wait while you are in the operating room.
In one of our hospitals there is a big board that shows each patient’s status from the time they enter the operating room until they are released from the recovery room to their own patient room. This allows loved ones to keep track of their progress as it is happening.
With this type of surgery it is likely that the patient will have a catheter in their bladder. They will have an intravenous feeding and medications may be given through it. Their bowel sounds will be listened to frequently to be sure their bowel is waking up and they are not developing an ileus which is the inability of the bowel to move gas through. Usually with this type of surgery a person will have considerable pain and will probably be given a pain pump to administer their own pain meds through the I.V. tube.
It will take time to determine how soon a patient can put weight on their leg(s) and how soon they will be able to sit up. They will sometimes have a tilt bed to aid in this process.
As the patient begins to heal they may begin to consider such things such as sexual intimacy. When someone loses a leg they frequently have a problem with self image and this should be discussed with their doctor. Also at some point they will begin to discuss mobility aids such as an artificial leg or a prosthetic device. If a person wants a prosthetic device it will be handled about two to three months after surgery.
A hemipelvectomy whether it is internal or external is a very serious surgery.
“About Your Orthopedic Surgery Hemipelvectomy,” Booklet, Mayo Clinic, 2003