ROME -- Three surgeons have been convicted of performing unnecessary operations in what the Italian media has dubbed a "clinic of horrors."

The sentences were handed down Friday after a trial in which prosecutors produced evidence that unneeded operations including amputations were performed on 83 patients at the Santa Rita clinic in Milan with the aim of getting large reimbursements from the state health system.

The chief surgeon, Pier Paolo Brega Massone, was sentenced to 15 1/2 years in prison. He was accused of causing pain through unnecessary surgery with the sole aim of "professional and economic gain."

Two other former surgeons received sentences of six and 10 years.