What is Unpadded Cast?
The complete, unpadded, skin-tight cast is not used often. It had been advocated in the past by some authors because it produces a lightweight, comfortable and perfectly fitting cast.
The advocates recommended this type of cast only in situations where swelling is unlikely to develop.
This cast has many drawbacks and potential risks. The danger of swelling always is there in an injury and if there is no padding the cast constricts the swelling leading to vicious circle of swelling.
The danger is less with padded casts as the padding buffers the space needed for the swollen tissue. But in case of unnpadded cast, the swollen tissue encounters the cast material which does not yield.
This in turn leads to pressure on the swollen tissue leading to constricting effect. Because of this constriction, flow of venous blood stops leading to further swelling.
If the patient neglects the swelling, it might lead to ischemia. Limbs have been lost due to plaster swellings.
The cast is difficult to split and bivalve.
Removal of the cast is also difficult and uncomfortable for the patient.
An electric cutter must never be used in this situation.
This occurs because the cutter is at risk of striking the skin after the plaster because there is nothing between. Unpadded cast should be cut with hand instruments that do not use power.
Some people apply this cast on stockinette to protect the skin form the heat that exothermic reaction of plaster setting would generate.
The advantage of unpadded cast is very accurate moulding of the plaster to the contours of the limb and thus better grip of the plaster.
But stockinette can be considered as padding and the cast is still called unpadded.
Note: The image shown with text is not of unpadded cast.
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