Cast saws CAN cut skin

Monday, April 1, 2013
On Feb. 19th, my seven-year old son broke his femur due to a non-ossifying fibroma. The whole experience was rather traumatic for him, so he was understandably nervous about having the cast removed (he's come to associate doctors with pain). We assured him that cast saws are specially designed not to cut skin. Still, he refused to let the tech near him, and we had to hold him down.

He kept crying out that it was cutting him. The tech assured us that wasn't possible, but I insisted on checking. There were cuts on his leg--like very deep scratches.

She claimed she'd been doing this for 18 years and never cut anyone. It must have been some fluke. When she switched to the other side of the cast, she cut him again. By then, she was to the point she could insert the guard again, or I wouldn't have let her continue.

All the research I did indicated that cast saws couldn't cut skin. That is simply not true.

*edit 8-29-13: I've been told that these are actually burns because the saw became too hot. I'm not 100% sure I believe that, because it didn't look like burns. Also, he did scar.


  1. Your poor son. Glad he's fine otherwise though.

  1. Shanella said...:

    When my brother broke his arm the same thing happened to him. The guy insisted that it wasn't possible. Now he's got a scar.

  1. I'm pretty sure my son is gonna have a scar too.

  1. Michelle said...:

    Wow, poor guy. I was searching to see if anyone else had been cut because I was and right on top of my incision making it bleed. They need to come up with something else or make the blade smaller. Hope he's doing ok.

  1. spring77 said...:

    My 10 month old daughter has been serial casted for 5 months for club feet. She's had many cast changes and she has been cut multiple times! The last time she was cut so bad it got infected and she's gonna have a nasty scar! Its bull that they swear the saws don't cut cause they do. Oh and hers aren't burns either!

  1. Unknown said...:

    Cast saws can, indeed, cut skin. There is great risk in both application and removal of any cast. I am a certified orthopedic technician and have been practicing for over 40 years. The "assurance" given that the saw won't cut is a "White Lie" to gain the patient's confidence to facilitate performing an unpleasant, difficult task. In the 1970's it was taught that the possibility of cutting someone with the Stryker design cast saw was one of the risks involved using that saw. The Stryker design of 1947 is practically unchanged in over 50 years. Unfortunately, medical "professionals" now believe that there is no risk involved, become testy and feel impugned if questioned regarding the safety of cast removal. I suggest always inquiring if the person doing the cast work is certified by NBCOT, National Board for Certification of Orthopedic Technologists, and/or affiliated with NAOT, National Association of Orthopedic Technologists. While this will not guarantee 100% safety, it will indicate the person you are entrusting your health or child's health with, at least has been certified by a governing agency.

  1. Unknown said...:

    This isn't a cut associated with a spinning saw - for which the cast wearer is fortunate. This isn't a "laceration", rather an "abrasion" cut - your seven year old son got road rash in a very narrow part of his skin : the saw pretty much sandpapered down to his blood vessels.

  1. Unknown said...:

    This isn't a cut associated with a spinning saw - for which the cast wearer is fortunate. This isn't a "laceration", rather an "abrasion" cut - your seven year old son got road rash in a very narrow part of his skin : the saw pretty much sandpapered down to his blood vessels.

  1. Polaquita said...:

    The cut is due to the heat. It can happen, and it should be explained to the patient before hand.

  1. Unknown said...:

    i have a massive scar in the middle of my arm due to one

  1. Unknown said...:

    I was 5 yrs old in the late 70's having a plaster cast removed from my left arm (I'm left-handed) in New York City. When the guy in the exam room sat down to turn on that noisy tool and started coming at me with it, I got scared and burst in to tears because I thought it Was a spinning saw blade that had a good chance of slicing flesh. I just didn't understand how it was gonna cut the hard cast -And- not me, Also ! Well, immediately the guy says to me real harshly-- "Aw, so you're gonna cry like a little baby here ??"

    Yeah, it was New York, pretty rough treatment. But as it turns out now, tho
    no blade injuries occurred, I can see the kindergarten me was actually Right in being leery of that risky thing !

  1. I got cut when I was 11, and I still remember, it was the first time I had cried in a long time.
    Then I had to do it AGAIN.

  1. Unknown said...:

    Cast saws utilize an oscillating blade that is designed to cut rigid materials and reduce damage to soft materials. They are generally very safe, however, they can burn, abrade, and even lacerate soft tissue. This can occur if the operator applies too much pressure.

  1. Unknown said...:

    I can vouch as an adult they cut and burn your skin. My wrist cast came off and had one nasty bleeding cut, and two small burns. Bloody liars

  1. Unknown said...:

    Amber, I was also told the saw cannot cut skin. I promised my 5 year old daughter it could not cut skin. She was cut 10 times by the blade and screamed and cried hysterically and had to be held down by three adults. The amount of guilt over this is unbearable.

  1. Unknown said...:

    I posted my daughter's cuts publicly on my Facebook profile:

    One of the cuts is 2.5 inches long and deep on the inside of her forearm.

    I cant even sleep at night.

  1. Unknown said...:

    I am literally living proof that cast cutters / saws can cut skin. The nurse cut up my cast from my broken arm and left me with a nasty scar that runs from the base of my wrist up to my shoulder.

  1. Some Guy said...:
    This comment has been removed by the author.

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