Hip Spica Cast for Children
Medically reviewed by Drugs.com. Last updated on Feb 4, 2024.
What is a hip spica cast?
A hip spica cast is also called a body cast. It is used to prevent hip and leg movement after surgery or broken a bone. Most spica casts will not allow your child to stand, walk, or bear any weight.
Which type of hip spica cast does my child need?
Hip spica casts may be placed from your child's chest to one or both thighs or knees. The cast may go all the way to your child's toes. A rod may be placed between your child's legs to keep his or her hips and legs from moving. The cast will have an opening so your child can urinate and have bowel movements.
How do I care for my child's cast while it hardens?
Your child's cast may need up to 48 hours to dry and harden completely.
- Protect the cast. Do not let your child put weight on the cast. Do not bend, lean on, or hit the cast with anything. Use the palms of your hands when you move the cast. Do not use your fingers. Your fingers could create indentations on the cast as it dries.
- Change positions often. Change your child's position every 2 hours to help the cast dry faster. You may let your child lean on his or her side from time to time.
- Keep the cast dry. Tie plastic trash bags around your child's cast to keep it dry during bathing. Use a blow dryer on cool or the lowest heat setting to dry the cast if it gets wet. Do not use a high heat setting. High heat may burn your child's skin. Certain casts can get wet. Ask if your child has a waterproof cast.
How do I care for my child's cast after it hardens?
- Check the cast every day. Contact your child's healthcare provider if you notice cracks, dents, holes, or flaking on your child's cast.
- Keep the cast clean and dry. Cover the cast with a towel or bib when your child eats. He or she may have a small piece of cast that can be removed to check incisions under the cast. Make sure the small piece of cast is kept tightly closed. If the cast gets dirty, use a mild detergent and a damp washcloth to wipe off the outside. Continue to cover the cast with trash bags to keep it dry during bathing.
- Care for the edges of your child's cast. Cover the cast edges to keep them smooth. Use 4 inch pieces of waterproof tape. Place one end of the tape under the inside edge of the cast and fold it over to the outside surface. Overlap tape strips until the edges are completely covered. Line the genital or diaper area opening completely. Change the tape as directed. Do not pull any of the padding from inside the cast. This could cause blisters and sores on the skin under your child's cast.
- Keep weight off the cast. Do not let anyone push down or lean on your child's cast. Weight may cause the cast to break.
- Do not use sharp objects. Do not let your child use a sharp or pointed object to scratch under the cast. The item may cause wounds that can get infected, or the item may get lost inside the cast. If your child's skin itches, blow cool air under the cast. You may also gently scratch his or her skin outside the cast with a cloth.
How do I keep my child comfortable?
Keep your child's head and upper body in a semi-sitting position at all times. Do this by propping his or her head, shoulders, and back up on pillows.
How do I help my child urinate and have bowel movements?
Your child's provider will show you how to change your young child's diaper or help your older child use the toilet. The provider will also show you how to help your child use a bedpan, if needed. You will be shown how to clean your child's skin to prevent a rash or pressure injury. Your child's provider will teach you how to keep urine and bowel movement away from the spica cast.
How do I move my child safely?
- Support the cast when you lift your child. Carry your child as close to you as possible. Cradle your child under the arms and the buttocks if you carry him or her by yourself. Support the weight of the cast as you carry your child. When 2 people are lifting, one person lifts under the shoulders while the other lifts the legs.
- Use something to help you move your child. Younger children may fit into a stroller or wagon padded with pillows. Older children may be able to use a wheelchair with an adjustable back support. This allows your child to lean back and sit comfortably. Ask your child's healthcare provider how to get one. An outdoor lounge chair may also be used as a portable bed. Use pillows and towels for support and to cover any rough edges.
- Use a car seat made for children in spica casts. Ask your child's provider where to get this type of car seat. Your child will be in a lying position in the car seat. Always have him or her ride in the back seat of the car.
Call your local emergency number (911 in the US) if:
- Your child has trouble breathing and chest pain.
When should I seek immediate care?
- Your child has more swelling than before the cast was put on.
- Your child has severe pain that is getting worse and does not go away with pain medicine.
- Your child's cast breaks or gets damaged.
- Your child's toes are swollen or the cast becomes too tight around the chest.
- Your child's skin turns blue or pale.
- Your child's skin tingles, burns, or is cold or numb.
When should I call my child's doctor or orthopedist?
- Your child has a fever.
- Something falls into your child's cast and gets stuck.
- You see drainage, or your child's cast is stained or smells bad.
- Your child has redness, blisters, wounds, or itching inside the cast that will not stop.
- Your child is crying and is more fussy than usual.
- You have questions or concerns about your child's condition or care.
Care AgreementYou have the right to help plan your child's care. Learn about your child's health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your child's healthcare providers to decide what care you want for your child. The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.
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