Surgeons have carried out an extraordinary operation in a bid to save a man's severed hand.

Doctors at a hospital in Changsha, the capital of Hunan Province in central China, attached a factory worker's hand to his leg, after it was cut off during an accident involving a spinning blade machine.

The man, identified only as Zhou, was rushed to the Xiangya Hospital in Changsha where doctors decided to carry out the unorthodox surgery.

Dr Tang Juyu, head of microsurgery at the hospital, decided Zhou's only chance of saving his severed hand was to carry out an operation he and his team had already successfully performed once in 2013 under similar circumstances.

However, because both Zhou's arm and severed hand were badly wounded following the accident, doctors were unable to attach it right away. They opted instead to allow the nerves and tendons to heal over time by grafting Zhou's left hand to his right ankle.

Dr Tang explained: "Under normal temperatures, a severed finger needs to resume blood supply within 10 hours, but that time is even shorter for a separated limb. If a limb is short of blood for too long, its tissues die and it will be unsalvageable."

In a 10-hour surgery, the man's hand was successfully grafted back on to his wrists after a month, when the nerves and tendons had healed from the trauma.

According to the Dr Tang, Zhou is now able to move his fingers slightly, but he will still need extensive rehabilitation before he regains full use of his hand.

On November 10 2013, doctors at a hospital in Changde, also in the Hunan province, successfully reattached the man's hand after it was attached to his ankle for a month.