Injury From Plaster of Paris Splints

January 1, 2002
John F. Connolly, MD
John F. Connolly, MD

These temporary splints are associatedwith special complications relatedto both the action or condition ofthe patient and the nature of thesplint itself. At our orthopaedic clinic,we commonly see patients whohave been referred from the emergencydepartment in a temporarysplint after a minor ankle sprain or afracture of the lateral malleolus. Ifthe patient allows the foot to hang ina nonfunctional position withoutweight bearing, the injured anklemay swell like a sausage.

These temporary splints are associatedwith special complications relatedto both the action or condition ofthe patient and the nature of thesplint itself. At our orthopaedic clinic,we commonly see patients whohave been referred from the emergencydepartment in a temporarysplint after a minor ankle sprain or afracture of the lateral malleolus. Ifthe patient allows the foot to hang ina nonfunctional position withoutweight bearing, the injured anklemay swell like a sausage. This patient's ankle was splinted in a severe equinus after a minor anklesprain (A). After the splint was removed 3 days after injury, extensive swellingfrom the dependent position of the foot became evident (B).To avoid such problems, immobilization with an air splint is preferred formost acute or subacute sprains and nondisplaced fractures of the ankle (C).