Features & Benefits
The cast saw has a sharp, small-toothed blade that vibrates back and forth quickly. It does not rotate like a circular saw. On a solid surface of plaster or fiberglass, the cast saw will cut through the material. However, on your skin, the cast saw simply moves the skin back and forth with the vibration, not cutting into it.
Cast saws are very safe, but they should only be used by people who are trained in their proper use and how to avoid problems. Using a cast saw incorrectly, or using a cast saw with a worn blade, can lead to problems.
Although uncommon, some plaster saw complications can occur during plaster removal, including minor skin damage or burns. However, when used correctly, these injuries are uncommon and there are precautions that can be taken to minimize this risk.
Problems can occur with the use of a cast saw, and it is important that the device be used by someone with the proper knowledge of cast saw technology. While healthcare providers should know proper cast saw technique, many cast technicians, physician assistants and medical assistants are also qualified to use this equipment.
According to one study, the most common reasons people experience complications when removing casts are blade wear, inadequate cast filler or improper training and experience. The injury rate for cast saws is around 1%; therefore, the risk is small but not non-existent.3 The most common problems include the following
Burns: Skin burns are the most common problem when removing castings with a cast saw. Due to the vibration of the cast saw blade, the friction between the blade and the casting material can cause high temperatures. If the blade becomes hot and comes in contact with the skin, burns may occur. Using less pressure on the saw to prevent the blade from heating up and allowing the warm blade to cool can help prevent this problem. Temperatures have been shown to be higher when cutting fiberglass casting materials compared to plaster.
Cuts: Small skin lacerations are not common, but can occur. Casting saw blades have teeth that are sharp enough to cut the skin. Skin lacerations are less likely to occur if there is adequate padding under the hard casting material.
Many people, especially younger children, are frightened of cast saws, but there are measures that can be taken to make the experience less traumatic.
Explain what is happening. Don't let the healthcare provider or cast tech rush in and start removing the cast without showing the patient the equipment and how it works. Fear of the unknown is usually much worse than fear of the saw.
Show how the saw will not cut the skin. Skin lacerations are the most common fear, and demonstrating that the saw will not cut your skin can help. Your healthcare provider or technician may press the blade of the running cast saw against their hand to demonstrate that it's safe.
Bring headphones. A cast saw can be noisy, and often the noise is more upsetting than the actual feeling of the saw. Earmuffs, headphones, or a noise-canceling device can help. Often kids will enjoy listening to music during cast removal.