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Shriners Children's orthopedic surgeons specialize in the application of Mehta casts — an option to treat the curvature of the spine in children diagnosed with infantile scoliosis.

A Mehta cast, named for the British scoliosis specialist who created the life-changing casting protocol, is applied in the operating room. The child, who is typically between the ages of 6 months and 5 years, is placed under anesthesia to reduce stress and ensure he or she remains in a steady position.

Like the serial casting techniques used to address joints by gently stretching to provide correction, Mehta casts slowly straighten the patient’s spine further also using a series of casts. Each cast is applied from below the arms to just below the waistline; sometimes, it may also go over the shoulders.

During application, pressure is placed on the cast, causing the spine to straighten. When the cast hardens, it holds the spine in this position. Each cast is worn for two to three months, with a brief break between applications of the casts. The number of casts needed and time taken to achieve correction varies in each case.

After the child becomes accustomed to balancing with the additional weight of the cast, they may engage in most non-water related play they enjoy. However, to keep skin healthy, care should be taken to keep the cast clean.

Following the Mehta casting series, each child must wear a removable brace for a variable amount of time, depending on individual needs. While Mehta casting corrects spine curvature for some children, for others it may serve to delay curve correction surgery until the child is older.

Treatments and services may vary by location. Please contact a specific location for more information.

Caring For a Mehta Cast

Having the correct supplies and knowing the right techniques to care for a cast can make a big difference for your child.

Supplies

Moleskin can help prevent rubbing of the skin at the edges of the cast. While your orthopedic team at Shriners Children's may supply this when the cast is put on, most drug stores also carry this product.

Cast Care

  • Because it is made of plaster, the most important element of cast care is keeping it dry. DO NOT allow your child to take a regular bath or shower while in a Mehta cast. Take close care in assisting your child in taking a sponge bath.
  • Moisture inside the cast will result in skin issues for your child. For this reason, keep the cast dry - not only when bathing, but also when eating. A salon cape or oversized plastic bib can be helpful for this purpose.
  • If the cast gets wet, use the cool setting of a hair dryer to dry the cast. DO NOT use the warm or hot setting.

Managing Meals

When your child's stomach is full from a large meal, this may make the cast feel tight and uncomfortable. Consider feeding your child frequent, small meals to avoid this discomfort. Giving your child plenty of fluids so that they will go to the bathroom regularly can also be helpful in keeping the cast more comfortable.

If you child has trouble breathing while in the cast, call 911 or go to the nearest emergency room.

We use plaster for our Mehta casts; fiberglass will not flex and bend the way plaster does. Our goal is to have it as strong as possible, but as light as possible.
Pete Stasikelis, M.D., Shriners Children's Greenville
patient with series of casts lined up next to her

We Specialize in Scoliosis Care for All Ages and Stages

Our comprehensive pediatric care program specializes in all ages of scoliosis onset — from infant to adolescent. A full-range of services offers multiple options for treatment of this this spine-curving diagnosis.

Conditions we treat

View All Related Conditions

Infantile Scoliosis

Infantile scoliosis is an abnormal curve of the spine to the right or to the left, in the shape of a C or S, and affects children age 3 and younger.

Scoliosis

Scoliosis is a condition where the spine is curved sideways. With advanced treatments and world-class expertise, Shriners Children's cares for more than 10,000 children with scoliosis each year

Orthopedic Surgery

With their expertise in treating children from toddlers to teens, the pediatric orthopedic surgeons at Shriners Children’s understand the challenges of planning ahead for growing bones and bodies.

MAGEC System

Shriners Children’s pioneered the use of the MAGEC System for treating early onset scoliosis. This magnetic rod-lengthening treatment gently guides the growth of the spine, without repeated surgeries.

Halo Traction

Shriners Children's skilled physicians use halo traction as a first step in correcting severe scoliosis, kyphosis and other spine deformities. The treatment carefully pulls a child's head and spine upward, applying a slow stretch.

Scoliosis Specific Exercises

Scoliosis specific exercises offered by physical therapists at Shriners Children’s, aim to correct and slow the progression of a spinal curve, reduce pain and improve posture, breathing and quality of life.

Next Steps

Request an Appointment

Families and caregivers seeking treatment should start by contacting us for an appointment.

Log in to the Patient Portal

Parents and guardians of existing patients can email, request records, schedule appointments and more.

Refer a Patient

Physicians and healthcare providers can request appointments, start transfers or contact us with questions.