Spica cast for developmental dysplasia of the hip

A spica cast is a hard covering over the waist, hips, and legs that prevents movement of the hips. A bar between the legs keeps the cast strong and an opening in the genital area allows normal urine and bowel elimination. A spica cast may be used to keep the hip joint of a child with developmental dysplasia of the hip (DDH) in the position for normal growth.

Spica casts are usually made of plaster or fiberglass. Plaster casts dry rapidly, but may feel damp for 24 to 48 hours. Fiberglass casts feel dry in less than 30 minutes. See a picture of a spica cast.

Spica casts are usually worn for 2 to 3 months and cannot be removed during this time. The child's position needs to be changed every 2 hours to relieve areas of pressure under the cast to prevent irritation or development of sores. In addition, the child's feet should be observed for swelling, pain, or a change in color. The skin around the edges of the cast needs to be inspected daily for irritation.

Plaster casts must be kept dry, but fiberglass casts can be washed with a damp cloth if they are soiled. Clothing should be placed over the cast to prevent small food particles or toys from getting inside the cast and irritating the skin.

Last Updated: May 11, 2009

Author: Debby Golonka, MPH

Medical Review: Michael J. Sexton, MD - Pediatrics & Thomas S. Renshaw, MD - Orthopedics

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