Casting for infantile scoliosis: the pitfall of increased peak inspiratory pressure

J Pediatr Orthop. 2013 Jan;33(1):63-7. doi: 10.1097/BPO.0b013e318264936f.


Background: Serial cast correction is a popular treatment option for progressive infantile scoliosis. Body casting can lead to chest and abdominal expansion restriction and result in decreased chest wall compliance. There are no studies evaluating the effects of casting on ventilation in infantile scoliosis. This study examines changes in peak inspiratory pressure (PIP) during serial casting for infantile scoliosis.

Methods: We retrospectively reviewed data obtained from 37 serial Cotrel elongation, derotation, and flexion cast corrections in patients with infantile scoliosis. Patient demographics, radiographic measurements, and anesthesia data were recorded. Anesthesia technique was standardized: children were intubated with rigid endotracheal tubes (ETTs); tidal volume was held constant at 8 to 10 cm(3)/kg using volume control ventilation; and PIP was recorded at baseline, after cast application before window cutout, and after window cutout before extubation. Any complications were documented. We assessed the PIP changes with a repeated measures analysis of variance (ANOVA).

Results: The mean age at first casting was 21.8 months (range, 12 to 42 mo) and mean follow-up since first casting was 22.4 months (range, 13 to 40 mo) with mean major Cobb angle of 53±15 degrees. The mean PIP was 15.5±4.9 cm H(2)O before casting, 31.9±7.9 cm H(2)O after cast application, and 20.4±5.6 cm H2O after making windows. There was a 106% increase after casting and 32% increase after window cutout from the baseline PIP levels. There was a significant difference in PIP on repeated measures ANOVA (P<0.0001). Intraoperatively, there was difficulty in maintaining ventilation during 2 procedures and 1 hypotensive episode. One patient developed hypoxemia after casting and another had delayed difficulty in breathing.

Conclusions: Casting resulted in an increased PIP due to transient restrictive pulmonary process; after windows were cut out, the PIP reduced but not to baseline. In patients with underlying pulmonary disease, the casting process may induce respiratory complications, and a proper period of observation after casting is necessary.

Level of evidence: Case series, level 4.

MeSH terms

  • Casts, Surgical*
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Inhalation / physiology*
  • Male
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Scoliosis / surgery*