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J Clin Nurs. 2011 Mar;20(5-6):675-80. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2702.2010.03458.x.

Use of polyurethane foam inside plaster casts to prevent the onset of heel sores in the population at risk. A controlled clinical study.

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Istituto Ortopedico Rizzoli, Bologna, Italy.



The aim of this study was to test the effectiveness of polyurethane foam in contact with the heel inside a plaster cast to decrease the rate of pressure sores in the population at most risk.


The rate of pressure sores caused by the plaster cast is reported to be 14-15% in the paediatric population, 33.3% in patients having undergone chemotherapy for bone tumours and 43% in orthopaedic patients who already have sore skin when the cast is applied (grade 1 lesion) to the heel.


Controlled clinical trial.


From November 2007-January 2009, all consecutive subjects requiring lower limb casts having undergone chemotherapy and/or presenting heel soreness received polyurethane foam in contact with the skin of the heel before applying the cast. The results were compared with those of patients with the same risk factors but were not administered the foam and were enrolled from May 2005-August 2006.


In total, 156 patients were enrolled, 85 in the control group and 71 in the experimental group. In the experimental group, 2 of the 56 patients (3.6%) with sore skin developed a pressure sore compared with 21 of 49 (42.9%) in the control group without polyurethane foam (p < 0.0005). In the experimental group, one of the 24 patients (4.2%) patients undergoing chemotherapy developed a pressure sore compared with 18 of 54 (33.3%) in the control group (p = 0.005).


Placing polyurethane foam in contact with the skin of the heel inside a plaster cast prevents the formation of pressure sores.


This study provides evidence that using polyurethane foam to prevent sores even inside plaster casts in populations at most risk is a simple and cost-effective strategy and decreases the discomfort, pain and risks in these patients.

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