Cast Saw Injuries: Beware of these Dangerous Accidents

A young girl getting her hand plaster cast removed with a cast saw
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The sound of a cast saw cutting through plaster or fiberglass casts can be enough to send chills down your spine. And for some patients, the ear-piercing noise is scary enough to let out their share of screeches during the process. Did you know that removing a cast with a cast saw can be the most traumatic part of fracture recovery? So if you hear screams coming from the fracture clinic, just know the shrieks are probably coming from patients during their cast removal procedure.

Removing a cast is a delicate procedure that requires experience and care. However, even when the cast is removed by experienced personnel, there is a risk of abrasive injuries and burns from the cast saw. These injuries can be quite severe and can occur even when the cast is removed correctly. For this reason, this blog post will discuss the risks involved in cast removal and what precautions to take to avoid these injuries.

What Is a Cast Saw?

A cast saw is a hand-held medical device commonly used to cut through plaster and fiberglass casts. It consists of a sharp, small-toothed blade that rapidly oscillates at a high frequency back and forth, cutting through the material of the cast. 

Preparing for Cast Removal

For many people, the thought of having a cast saw used to remove their cast is a very scary proposition. The good news is that there are some things that you can do to help prepare yourself for the experience. 

  • Ask your doctor to explain how a cast saw works:  Ask your doctor or nurse to show you how the cast saw works before it is actually used on you. This will help to reduce any anxiety or fear that you may be feeling. 
  • Headphones may help: The use of an oscillating saw produces a high-pitched noise that can be unbearable for some patients, especially younger children. Wearing headphones can help. 

Cast Removal What to Expect

 A close-up image of a plaster cast being removed from a patient
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It's natural to feel a sense of trepidation when you think about having your cast removed. After all, the process involves using a power tool to cut through the cast material. If you have an experienced provider, the removal process is quick and relatively painless. Here's what you can expect: 

Your doctor will use the cast saw to make a few small incisions in the cast. Then, they'll gently pull back the plaster to remove it from your limb. So if you're feeling nervous about having your cast removed, try to relax and know that it's a relatively quick and easy procedure. 

Are Orthopedic Cast Saws Safe?

Cast saws have a blade that vibrates at a high frequency, making them capable of cutting through hard materials like plaster and fiberglass. However, this same property can also make them dangerous if they are not used properly. Improper use of a cast saw can result in skin injuries or burns. In order to avoid these complications, it is important that only personnel who have been properly trained in the use of cast saws operate them. Furthermore, the blades of the cast saw should be inspected regularly and replaced when necessary to ensure that they are in good condition. 

What Injuries Can Occur From a Cast Saw? 

Oscillating saws are commonly used to remove orthopedic casts. This method of cast removal has been associated with injury and patient discomfort. Burns and lacerations can occur from the heat created by frictional forces and direct blade contact. 

  • Burns: When removing a cast with a cast saw, it is important to be aware of the potential for skin burns. The vibrating cast saw blade can generate high temperatures, which can cause burns if the blade comes into contact with the skin. To prevent this, it is important to allow a warm blade to cool before continuing. Additionally, care should be taken when cutting through fiberglass cast material, as temperatures tend to be higher than with plaster. 
  • Lacerations: The teeth of the cast saw blade can be sharp enough to scratch the skin. If ample padding is under the hard cast material, a skin laceration is less likely. Padding helps protect the skin from the sharpness of the blade and also provides cushioning so that the blade does not cut through the skin.
  • Vibration causing pain to the injury: the vibration of the saw can cause discomfort for patients who are already experiencing pain from their injury. 

Cast Alternative That Does Not Need a Cast Saw for Removal 

A nurse placing cast21 waterproof cast alternative to patient with wrist fracture

Cast saws are an essential part of the medical procedure to remove traditional plaster or fiberglass casts, but for some people, the sound and sight of them can be incredibly anxiety-provoking.

Cast21 is a new type of alternative that doesn't require a cast saw for removal. 

Instead, it can be easily removed with just your hands and a pair of scissors. Cast21 is made of a unique material that is strong enough to support your injury while also being flexible enough to allow for comfortable movement. And best of all, it's completely waterproof, so you can shower and swim without worry. If you're looking for a better way to immobilize your injury, ask your doctor if Cast21 is right for you. 

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