Canis ISSN: 2398-2942

Fracture fixation: casts

Synonym(s): Cast, Splint, External fixation

Contributor(s): Susan Rackard

Introduction

  • To stabilize a fracture using a rigid cast until healing is complete.

Uses

  • Simple, transverse fractures of the bone(s) of an extremity (especially in young animals), with little distraction, which are easy to reduce, are relatively stable on reduction and where the joints both proximal and distal to the fracture can be immobilized in the cast Fracture: overview.
  • Greenstick fractures.
  • Open fractures where access to skin wounds is necessary ('Half' casts, acrylic cast).
  • Highly comminuted, minimally displaced fractures in pets belonging to owners who decline operative treatment.

Advantages

  • Relatively cheap.
  • Maintains 'closed' nature of injury.
  • Relatively short general anesthesia.
  • Acrylic casts are lightweight but strong.
  • 'Half' casts allow for wound treatment.

Disadvantages

  • Casts prevent normal limb movement.
  • Plaster casts are heavy and restrict general activity.
  • Plaster casts are not water proof.
  • Casts do not allow for compression of fracture site - healing may be slow with large callus formation.
  • Management can be difficult.
  • There is a fine balance between maintaining rigid stability, a close fit and avoiding pressure sores/abrasions from too tight a fit.
  • Only suitable for extremities where the joints both distal and proximal to the fracture can be immobilized by the cast - ie distal to elbow and stifle.

Requirements

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Preparation

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Procedure

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Aftercare

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Outcomes

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Prognosis

  • Good when correctly applied.

Further Reading

Publications

Refereed papers

  • Recent references from PubMed and VetMedResource.
  • Sequin B & Harari J (1995) External coaptation devices for small animal surgical patients. Vet Tech 16, 107-119.
  • Wilson D G & Vanderby R (1995) An evaluation of six synthetic casting materials: strength of cylinders in bending. Vet Surg 24 (1), 55-59 PubMed.


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