What to Know if Your Child Needs a Spica Cast

If your child is in a spica (body) cast, it can pose a series of challenges both for you and your youngster.

You may have some questions, like:

  • How long will my child have to wear the cast?
  • How can I make her more comfortable?
  • How do we clean around the cast?

These are common concerns. But with some patience and good information, you and your child will come out of it just fine. It doesn’t have to be overwhelming.

What Is a Spica Cast?

This cast is used to keep the thigh bones and pelvis still so they can heal. It holds the hip joint bones in the right position. It covers both legs (maybe one just partially), the waist and part of the abdomen. It will typically be on for 6 weeks to 3 months.

Spica casts are most commonly used for infants with development hip dysplasia (DDH) and for young children with broken legs or who have had hip or pelvis surgery.

Most people with hip dysplasia are born with it. It means the ball portion of the upper thigh bone isn’t covered entirely by the hip socket. This allows the hip joint to become dislocated.

How You Can Keep Your Baby Comfortable

Most spica casts are made of fiberglass and harden quickly. They come with lining to help seal off moisture. Keeping them clean and dry is not only important, but challenging.

Place a smaller diaper or incontinence pad under a larger diaper that goes around the cast. Ask your doctor’s staff to show you how. Change your baby’s diapers frequently and treat the skin to prevent diaper rash. Don’t put any lotion or powder inside the cast. You’ll also want to:

  • Give her a daily sponge bath.
  • Keep the cast clean and dry.
  • Use a blow dryer on a cool setting to keep it dry or to relieve itching.
  • Put some padding on rough edges to protect her skin.
  • Keep objects from getting stuck between the cast and her skin.
  • Check her skin daily for sores or rashes.
  • Check the color of your child’s toes, and make sure she can wiggle them.

Your doctor can help with questions about high chairs, breastfeeding or other concerns.

After the Cast

When the cast comes off, your baby’s skin might be flaky or discolored, and the limb might seem a bit small. These things are to be expected, and they’ll go back to normal.

Your doctor may want your child to wear a brace for a while longer, depending on how she’s healing.

WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Dan Brennan, MD on March 23, 2019

Sources

SOURCES:

Massachusetts General Hospital: “Caring for a child in a spica cast.”

International Hip Dysplasia Institute: “Spica Cast Maintenance.”

Children’s Hospital of Oakland: “Home Care and Transportation of a Child in a Hip Spica (Body) Cast.”

The Mayo Clinic: “Hip dysplasia, Overview.”

The American Academy of Pediatrics: “Caring for a Cast.”

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