Emergency spica, meta and back splints of newspaper: an economical way to manage fractures, luxations - DVM
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Emergency spica, meta and back splints of newspaper: an economical way to manage fractures, luxations

Newspaper meta splints

These are used to immobilize the distal radius, carpus, metacarpal and phalangeal bones of the foot. The splint is made by taking a bar section of newspaper and folding it so as to make a trough or gutter that is later applied to the posterior aspect of the pectoral limb.

The splint should extend from the distal end of the second pharynx of the middle two toes, proximally to just distal to the elbow joint. The applied meta splint extends from the toes distally to the elbow proximally.

As mentioned earlier, quick emergency application, using only a few strips of tape and possibly some brown gauze, is an excellent splint to apply prior to taking radiographs of patients with suspected fractures of radius and ulna because it prevents additional injury during film process. Application of this type of splint has been taught in pet first-aid classes, and owners have remarked how they even have used the technique on human fractures as well.

In radial fractures involving their diaphyseal section or up to the proximal one-third section, an extended meta splint to immobilize the elbow can be attempted. In this case the newspaper is brought proximally to the level of the midsection of the humerus.

Newspaper V or tent splints

These splints usually are indicated for spinal-column immobilization when faced with suspected fracture and luxation or subluxation where displacement has not been significant. It is recommended to span as many vertebra to each side of the injury as possible, with five or six being ideal.

The keys to providing enough resistance to bending by the body are to add a second V support "beam" (by taping) to the section of the V splint at its peak, and adding a tight roll of newspaper to each side of the V.

These same additions to increase structural strength and integrity can be used in spica and meta splints, too, if necessary. They are particularly helpful in working with large animals.

Application is similar to that of the newspaper meta splint.

Take care, however, not to bind the splint so tightly to the body that breathing is impaired. Apply 2-in. or 3-in. adhesive tape or other adhesive bandage material at the splint ends so that it is partly on the patient's hair and partly on the splint, keeping it from slipping.

Follow-up care

Radiographs can be taken through the newspapers to assess fracture alignment and healing. Re-check exams are recommended the first day after application and then at least weekly (in those that are going to be used for long-term treatment of the fracture). This is to ensure that there is no problem with circulation, slippage, wetness, odor or loosening that would compromise immobilization.

It is essential that splints do not get wet.

If some weakness is noted, more newspaper layers can be added. Loosening sometimes can be corrected by applying more outer adhesive bandage product.

Questions? Call Crowe at (706) 296-7020 or e-mail him at


Source: DVM360 MAGAZINE,
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