A cast saw is a power tool used to remove orthopedic casts. Unlike circular saws with rotating blades, cast saws use a sharp, small-toothed blade rapidly oscillating or vibrating back and forth over a very small arc to cut material. Patients’ skin frequently comes into contact with the blade; however, the design enables the saw to cut rigid materials such as plaster or fiberglass while soft tissues such as skin move back and forth with the blade, dissipating the shear forces, preventing injury.
Cast removal procedures result in complications in less than 1% of patients. These complications can include skin abrasions or thermal injuries from friction between the saw and cast. Temperatures exceeding 101 °C (214 °F) have been recorded during removal of fiberglass casts. Proper use of the saw is to perforate (instead of cutting) the cast, which can then be separated using a cast spreader.
- Demonstration by Dr. Matthew Halanski of a cast saw on: