Kids Health Info

Hip spica plaster 1: What to expect in hospital

  • What is a hip spica?

    A hip spica is a type of plaster that covers both legs from the ankles up to the level of the belly button. An area around the groin is cut out for toileting. This type of plaster cast is used to prevent movement after hip surgery or fractures of the femur, allowing the area to heal. Coping with your child in a hip spica may appear difficult at first, but you and your child will get used to it quickly.

    Hip spica baby 2 RCH

    Hip spica older child 2 RCH

    Reasons for a hip spica

    Hip spicas are used to prevent movement in the hips or upper legs after surgery so the bones can heal. A hip spica may be used after a fractured femur (broken thigh bone) or after various types of hip surgery. 

    What to expect in hospital

    Having a hip spica plaster means you'll need a lot of education and preparation before going home.


    • Learning how to care for your child and the hip spica.
    • Learning how to pick up and carry your child, position changes, nappy changes, feeding, bathing and transporting.


    • Means applying a layer of fibreglass over the plaster to make it stronger.
    • Scotching does not make the plaster waterproof.
    • This is done on the ward.


    • Is done by applying a tape (like electrical tape) around the edges of the plaster in the groin area.
    • This helps to prevent urine (wee) and faeces (poo) from soaking into the plaster.

    Car transport 

    • Involves fitting your child into a car seat. Please bring your child's car seat to the ward as soon as possible to begin this process.
    • Car seats often need modifications such as padding with towels or extendable crotch straps to allow your child to fit when they have a hip spica.
    • Every attempt is made to fit children into their own car seat. However, sometimes this is not possible. 
    • Sometimes you may need to hire a car seat from the Equipment Distribution Centre (EDC) at the hospital if your child's own car seat is not suitable.
    • Car seating is done by the nurses on the ward who are experienced and trained according to relevant safety standards.
    • We will give you a letter which you should keep in the car at all times if car seats are modified.

    Pram/wheelchair fitting 

    • Involves fitting your child into a pram or wheelchair. Please bring your child's pram to the ward as soon as possible to begin this.
    • Most of the time, infants will fit into their prams with some small modifications and the nurses on the ward will do this.
    • Children who are too big for prams or strollers will need a wheelchair to get around.

    More information


    Factsheet developed by the Department of Orthopaedics. First uploaded August 2005. Updated November 2010.

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This information is intended to support, not replace, discussion with your doctor or healthcare professionals. The authors of these consumer health information handouts have made a considerable effort to ensure the information is accurate, up to date and easy to understand. The Royal Children's Hospital, Melbourne accepts no responsibility for any inaccuracies, information perceived as misleading, or the success of any treatment regimen detailed in these handouts. Information contained in the handouts is updated regularly and therefore you should always check you are referring to the most recent version of the handout. The onus is on you, the user, to ensure that you have downloaded the most up-to-date version of a consumer health information handout.