A Prospective Study on the Effectiveness of Cotton Versus Waterproof Cast Padding in Maintaining the Reduction of Pediatric Distal Forearm Fractures

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BackgroundDistal forearm fractures, one of the most common fractures seen in the pediatric population, are regularly treated by closed reduction and casting. Our study investigates the effectiveness of Gore-Tex-lined casting in maintaining the reduction of 100% displaced distal forearm fractures compared with traditional cotton-lined casts.MethodsWe screened all patients from February 2007 to July 2009 who presented to Children's Hospital in Birmingham, AL with a distal radius fracture. Only patients with 100% displaced distal radius fractures were eligible to be assigned to either the cotton-lined or Gore-Tex-lined cast groups. Power analysis was performed to identify an adequate patient sample size. The mean maximum change between initial post-reduction x-rays and follow-up x-rays for anterior-posterior (AP) angulation, AP displacement, lateral angulation, and lateral displacement of the radius were calculated for both cotton and Gore-Tex groups. The rate of subsequent intervention and/or unacceptable results for each group was also analyzed.ResultsSeven hundred and twenty-two patients were treated with distal radius fractures at our hospital with 59 patients eligible for inclusion in our study. Thirty-six of our patients were treated with cotton-lined casts, and 23 patients were treated with Gore-Tex-lined cast. The mean maximum change in AP angulation, AP displacement, lateral angulation, and lateral displacement of the radius after initial reduction was 9.2 degrees, 6.9%, 13.9 degrees, and 13.6%, respectively, for the cotton-lined cast group and 7.7 degrees, 6.1%, 14.6 degrees, and 9.6%, respectively, for the Gore-Tex-lined cast group. There were no statistical differences between the means of the 4 measurements (P=0.33, 0.69, 0.73, and 0.10, respectively). There were also no significant differences between groups for final AP and lateral angulation and displacement. Subgroup analysis showed no significant differences in all measurements between cotton and Gore-Tex groups.ConclusionGore-Tex and cotton-lined casts are equally effective in their ability to maintain the reduction of 100% displaced distal forearm fractures. Thus, Gore-Tex-lined casts can be offered to pediatric patients immediately after closed reduction of distal radius fractures of any severity.Level of EvidenceTherapeutic level II.

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