Spica cast as an alternative to general anesthesia for lower limb MRI in young children

Rabattu PY, Courvoisier A, Bourgeois E, Eid A, Durand C, Griffet J. Spica cast
as an alternative to general anesthesia for lower limb MRI in young children. J
Orthop Traumatol. 2014 Mar;15(1):55-8



The conventional approach for MRI procedures in very young children is to use general anesthesia which comes with inherent risks. Non-pharmacological strategies to reduce anxiety in children have also been described, but they all require patient cooperation. The purpose of the study was to evaluate the ability to complete diagnosis using temporary spica cast immobilization (TSCI) in children less than 3 years old undergoing MRI procedures for lower limb disorders.


A retrospective review identified 14 children under 3 years old that had required an MRI for a lower limb disorder, using TSCI. The MRI procedure was performed for evaluation of hip dysplasia, bone infections, limping, evaluation of soft tissue tumor and femoral head osteonecrosis. A spica cast was fitted by the pediatric orthopedic team. The MRI procedure was subsequently performed.


Diagnosis was achieved in all cases. The radiologist identified movement artifacts (14 %) that did not impair the image quality enough to prevent interpretation.


TSCI is a safe, effective and costless procedure avoiding general anesthesia for young patients under 3 years old who require MRI for pelvis or lower limb disorders.

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