Plaster Cast: Cure for Our Bones

A plaster cast can be considered to be one of the most fascinating inventions in medicine. The creation and rather wide use in the medical practice of casts for bone fractures are the most important achievements in surgery of the past century. And such a contribution was made by a talented reformer of a medicine – Mykola Pirogov.

How Did It Start?

Mykola Pirogov was the first person in the whole world who had created and applied a completely different method of the bandage, which was impregnated with liquid gypsum.

It is worth to admit that Pirogov did not come up with an idea of using gypsum immediately.

We need to note that it was a time of wars, so Mykola Pirogov went to the battlefield as a medical scientist. He worked twelve hours per day, forgetting even about food. In those days the brilliant scientist made remarkable discovery. For the treatment of bone fractures, he began to use a starch fixed bandage instead of lime bast (bark). The long pieces of canvas impregnated with starch were superimposed layer by layer on the broken limb. At the site of the fracture, a strong callus was formed.

In 1854, Pirogov came up with the idea of replacing the uncomfortable starch bandage with gypsum. Gypsum (sulfuric acid calcium) is a powder with a high hygroscopicity. When it is mixed with water, it freezes for 5-10 minutes. Earlier this plaster was used by builders, architects, sculptors. However, Pirogov used a gypsum bandage to fix and consolidate injured tissues in a medicine.

This invention can be related to traumatology, particularly to drugs which are designed to treat diseases associated with impaired functions of the cervical spine. The tape is made of an absorbent fibrous material with external capillary channels and a self-releasing pile of the sintepon type. The bandage provides straightening and "unblocking" of the cervical vertebrae, releasing the jammed nerves and restoring the human activity. Nowadays, plaster casts are used in many spheres of medicine, but traumatology remains to be its kingdom. However, plaster casts have become more multi-tasked: almost all fractures in various bones can be treated by this kind of bandage. Moreover, it is still the only possible way to recover broken bones.

According to contemporary researchers, the cast plaster has high therapeutic characteristics. Gypsum is a kind of protection of the wound from further contamination and infection. It also contributes to the destruction of microbes and allows air to penetrate to the wound. And the most important thing is that plaster cast provides the patient with the necessary rest for the broken bones. Therefore, we can say for sure that plaster cast is one of the most prominent inventions of the XIX century.