June 20, 2024

Care Nex

Stay Healthy, Live Happy

Man Gets Two Healthy Fingers Amputated

2 min read

A doctor in Quebec treated a man with body integrity identity disorder by amputating two healthy fingers from his left hand.

The 20-year-old patient claimed he was experiencing “profound distress” and “incessant thoughts” about the fourth and fifth fingers on his left hand, according to a clinical case report.

The man reported that since childhood, he had a “traumatizing” sensation that the fingers didn’t belong to his body, leading to pain, irritability, impaired dexterity and nightmares of his fingers “rotting or burning.”

Dr. Nadia Nadeau — with the department of psychiatry at Université Laval — wrote that the man was diagnosed with body integrity identity disorder.

Body integrity identity disorder (BIID) or body integrity dysphoria is an extremely rare phenomenon characterized by a strong and persistent desire to acquire a physical disability. It causes an individual to feel as though a limb or healthy body part shouldn’t be part of their body, according to the Cleveland Clinic.

As a result, a patient will ask a healthcare provider to amputate the healthy limb or attempt self-amputation, which is dangerous and potentially life-threatening. There are treatment options available to help manage the condition and avoid amputation of a healthy limb or prevent a patient from performing harmful behaviors.

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Stock image of doctor and patient.


Nadeau reported that the patient did not share his distress about his fingers with family due to embarassment after frequently fantasizing about amputating them himself. 

“Working in a sawmill, he considered building a small guillotine to cut his fingers,” she wrote. “He was aware self-harm wasn’t a safe solution and could have repercussions on his relationships, reputation, and health. He couldn’t imagine himself living for the years to come with those fingers.”

The patient’s brain imaging was normal so he was offered “noninvasive treatments,” including cognitive behavioral therapy, antidepressants, antipsychotics, and exposure therapy. However, they were all reportedly unsuccessful.

 “Deemed capable of requesting amputation, he was referred to orthopedics and stopped his psychotropic medications in a collaborative decision with the treating psychiatrist,” the report states. 

Six months later, the man underwent elective amputation performed by an orthopedic surgeon at his local hospital.

“Post-surgery, nightmares stopped immediately, along with the emotional distress,” Nadeau wrote. “He had constructive life plans, reduced anger, and improved well-being with family and at work. No regrets were expressed.” 

“He is now living a life free from distressing preoccupations about his fingers, with all his symptoms related to BID resolved,” she continued. “The amputation enabled him to live in alignment with his perceived identity.”


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