An orthopedic cast on a patient's arm, despite limiting his lifestyle, will help a broken bone heal much faster than without one. Modern casts are made out of fiberglass, which is very stiff and keeps the patient's arm immovable and thus more able to heal. Fiberglass casts can have a waterproof liner placed just under the outside fiberglass layer 1. Once the injury heals and the cast is no longer necessary, it can be removed easily by a doctor or at home. The doctor will use a small, electrical medical saw to cut off the cast. Saws will easily cut through all cast types (including the waterproof layer in fiberglass casts) but will only tickle the person's arm 1. At home, soaking a cast in a solution of water and vinegar will slowly dissolve the cast.
If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, seek emergency treatment immediately.
If the cast you are removing is made of plaster, place goggles and breathing mask on yourself and the patient. During sawing, dust can get in your eyes and mouth. Many saws, however, have built-in vacuums, which lessen this hazard.
Start sawing at the top of the arm (the shoulder or elbow) in the direction of the hands.
Saw one side along the arm until cut, and then saw the opposite side.
Saw with an up and down motion to keep the saw from getting jammed or stuck. Grasp the saw handle close to the saw blade for maximum control.
Remove the cast with a cast spreader. It will come off easily because the cast is in two pieces due to cutting it on opposite sides.
Cut away the padding, or stockinet, with scissors. Start at the top of the arm towards the hand.
Use rubbing alcohol on a piece of cotton wool to clean the arm. It will wash away dead skin and dirt build-up. Dispose of the cast immediately.
Find a bucket large enough for your whole cast to fit in. Fill it with warm water and 1 tbl. of vinegar.
Soak the cast-clad arm for one to two hours until the wrapping starts to loosen. Unwrap the cast until it is completely removed. Dispose of the cast.
Dispose of the water outside, rather than pouring it down your sink; the plaster can clog your pipes.
Only let a doctor saw off your cast. Do not attempt to do it yourself.
- Medical cast-cutter saw
- Breathing mask
- Warm water
- Rich Ellgen/Demand Media