Phantom limb experiences in congenital limb-deficient adults

Cortex. 1994 Sep;30(3):479-85. doi: 10.1016/s0010-9452(13)80343-7.


This case report describes phantom limbs in four adults with congenital limb deficiency. Case 1, with congenital absence of the left arm below the elbow, received a minor injury of the stump at age 16 and subsequently developed a full-length phantom arm, hand and fingers. Cases 2 and 3, at the ages of 26 and 30, underwent minor surgery of the lower limbs and subsequently developed vivid, full-length phantoms of their legs. Case 4, aged 31, was born with a shortened and deformed right leg, and underwent amputation of the foot and deformed part of the leg at age 3. Beginning at age 6, she developed a full-length phantom leg and foot that touched the floor, which persisted for more than 20 years. The descriptions by these four adults lend credibility to earlier reports of phantom limbs in congenital limb-deficient children. They also indicate that these phantoms may persist into adulthood.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Abnormalities, Drug-Induced / physiopathology*
  • Abnormalities, Drug-Induced / psychology
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Arm / innervation
  • Artificial Limbs
  • Child
  • Ectromelia / chemically induced
  • Ectromelia / physiopathology*
  • Ectromelia / psychology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Leg / innervation
  • Male
  • Peripheral Nerves / physiopathology
  • Phantom Limb / chemically induced
  • Phantom Limb / physiopathology*
  • Phantom Limb / psychology
  • Somatosensory Cortex / physiopathology
  • Thalidomide / adverse effects*


  • Thalidomide