As if having an infant or young child with an orthopedic condition requiring treatment isn’t enough, now you are told your child will need a spica cast. While it seems insurmountable to care for a child in a spica cast, many parents have walked this road before and have succeeded. You will too!
A spica cast (also called a hip spica cast or body cast) is an orthopedic cast that stabilizes a femur fracture or a hip joint after surgery for hip dysplasia in infants and young children. The cast, which is made of fiberglass with a soft lining inside, immobilizes the thigh, hip, and pelvis. The cast covers the chest, one or both thighs, and may extend below the knees and/or ankles. Special care is needed when changing diapers, cleaning, and transporting children who have a spica cast.
A spica cast is needed to treat femur fractures and hip dysplasia in young children. A spica cast is the standard of care for management of femur fractures for children younger than five years old weighing less than 50 pounds. The location and pattern of the femur fracture determine how much of the injured lower extremity will be secured in the spica cast. Often, both legs may be casted. The spica cast is also utilized to keep the hip joint stable to facilitate healing of the bones and soft tissue structures in infants and young children treated for developmental dysplasia of the hip.
Over time, the spica cast will become a little dingy, but it is best to keep it as clean and dry as possible. You will need to sponge-bathe your child. A waterproof liner that is adjacent to the body helps with bowel and bladder hygiene, but the cast is not waterproof. If the cast gets wet, it is best to call your doctor because the moisture will quickly irritate the skin beneath the cast. If the cast is a little damp from sponge bathing or cleaning the groin area, it is fine to use a hair dryer on a cool setting to dry the cast.