Definintions and Questions
Pavlik Harnes
Spica Cast
Practical Tips
Diapering and Bathing
Case Histories
Picture Gallery
Hip-baby Disclaimer


A spica cast is applied after surgery to hold the hips in the most appropriate position for bone growth. The purpose of the cast is to stabilize the hip after a reduction. A spica consists of a plaster or fiberglass cast that encases the child from stomach to feet.

spica with stabilizing bar

When a surgeon installs a spica cast, they will hold the hips into position and then wrap the plaster around the hips until they obtain the appropriate thickness. The standard cast will have a cotton liner. Some surgeons will place a Gortex liner on the inside of the cast in an attempt to keep the skin dry.

The following are tips for spica cast care:

  • When a child is placed in a spica, it is important to check the feet for swelling. Pinch one of the child's toes and then let go. The color should return almost immediately.
  • If the cast seems to be getting tight around the groin or toes, take the child in to be checked. It is possible to loosen the spica around the toes with pliers. Your surgeon should have more specific tools for loosening the rest of the cast.
  • Don't be surprised if your child outgrows the cast and you need to have a second cast applied.
  • Never lift a child in a spica cast by their upper body. Always lift the child by the cast, one arm under the bottom and one under the opposite arm.
  • Also see diapering and bathing for specific information.
  • If you know that your child is going to be placed in a spica cast, ask your surgeon to use the goretex liner and fiberglass casts. They are easier to keep clean than the older plaster variety.

A description of when the cast is removed.

bachelor castA Bachelor cast is often worn by the child after the child has spent time in a hip spica cast. Notice that the cast only covers the legs (it does not cover the hips and diaper area). The child can move more freely and some even learn to walk in it.

As seen below, there are different positions that the child can be put, and each spica cast is unique. The spica cast can be on one or both legs. The cast can cover the child's toes or end just above the knee. These pictures show other cast "styles".

hip spica shorts one leg cast

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