Invasive treatments and surgeries are not recommended for infants or very young children. Corrective treatment for early-onset scoliosis, therefore, is practiced using a technique called Mehta casting. It is a process of making and applying a series of casts on the child’s back. The application of slow and gentle pressure seeks to correct the spinal curve.
The procedure happens on a table designed for that specific purpose and allows the doctors to correct the deformity. The cast is changed after every 8 weeks and subsequent attempts seek to correct the curvature of the spine.
The Mehta cast consists largely of fiberglass. The child is given general anesthesia in the operating room and made to sleep so that the process can happen smoothly with minimal disturbance to the infant as well as minimal interference in the process. The procedure takes around one hour.
The child is made to wear a soft cloth under the cast to protect their skin. After the cast is put, an X-ray is conducted to check the spine. The cast feels tight and wet initially. However, as it dries the feeling of tightness goes away.
This takes around 2-3 days. After 18 months, the constant application of the cast corrects the curvature. Later, a brace is put after the cast, so that the correction stays supported and maintained.
How to Take Care of the Cast?
1. Keeping the cast dry: Mehta casts are not impervious to moisture. It is crucial to keep the cast dry as moisture causes skin problems. The child should be bathed after 2 or 3 days. You can keep your child clean by application of a wet sponge or a cloth. The cast should be protected by covering it with plastic. This should be done while sponging, eating, bathing, or while using the washroom. If the cast gets dirty, clean it with a wet cloth and a mild detergent and dry it using a hairdryer on mild.
2. Keeping the skin intact: Make sure not to put anything under the cast. This is because the skin underneath is delicate and can get infected easily. In case of itching or irritation, blow cool air to soothe it. If the irritation persists and becomes unbearable then approach your doctor for the correct medicine.
3. Check the cast and how your child is responding to it: Sometimes the cast can be too tight and slow down circulation or cause breathing difficulties. It can also put undue pressure on the nerves. To ensure that this is not happening, check your child’s body for any change in colour, movement and be attuned to their feelings and sensations.
Based in Birmingham, Dr. Jwalant S Mehta is a spinal surgeon and a medical consultant who specializes in spinal deformity corrections. He has a wealth of experience in treating children as well as adults and is a part of various medical boards and committees.
He is not only a practicing, experienced doctor and the foremost of many orthopaedic spine specialists but a researcher who has actively contributed towards generating knowledge related to the spinal system. If you or your loved ones are facing any issues related to your spine, Dr. Mehta is the best spine doctor to approach as he provides advanced orthopaedic and spine care.