Looking for something?

Find it in our extensive resource library!

Smart Filters

  • Reset
  • Services

  • Who it's for

  • What it’s about

  • Format

View: 1366

Download: 18

Bolster dressings

Bolster dressings are used to prevent excessive soft tissue movement around skeletal screws, pins or wires. They are generally used on femoral screw sites, or on half-pin sites on Ilizarov or Taylor spatial frames. Reducing soft tissue movement with the application of a bolster dressing can lessen patient discomfort and prevent pin site infection. There is little evidence available to support the use of any one particular type of bolster dressing. Each child or young person and fixator is different, therefore the types of bolster dressings used can vary.

Points to remember:

  • A ‘bolster dressing’ is a pack of firm dressing material between the child’s skin and fixator.
  • The bolster dressing should be removed before daily pin site cleaning or swimming, and reapplied after daily pin site cleaning.
  • No one method or type of bolster dressing is absolute.
  • The main principle of bolster dressings is to prevent the constant movement of soft tissues around a skeletal screw, pin or wire.

Examples of bolster dressings

Keyhole bolster dressing

Fabric gauze square being cut diagonally

Step A

  • On a small square of gauze, make a diagonal cut from one corner to the centre
Gauze being secured around a pin with tape

Step B

  • Apply the gauze square around the pin/wire and secure by applying tape to gauze, not skin

Ribbon gauze bolster dressing

Gauze being secured around a pin with tape

Step C

  • Apply a small key hole gauze pad to the pin site (Step C)
Gauze wrapped around a pin to form a ribbon

Step D

  • Unfold a large gauze swab and roll into a ‘sausage shape’. Wrap the gauze ‘sausage’ around the pin site, applying pressure to ensure a firm dressing (Step D)
  • Secure with tape (on the gauze not the skin)

Gauze figure of 8 bolster dressing

Gauze dressing applied to two pins

Step E

  • Apply a small key hole gauze dressing around each pin/screw (Step E) and secure with tape as in Step B
Gauze wrapped in a figure of eight around the top of two pins

Step F

  • Unfold a large gauze swab and roll into a ‘sausage shape’. Wrap the gauze ‘sausage’ around two pins/screws using a figure of ‘8’, applying pressure to ensure a firm dressing (Step F)
  • You may need to use more than one gauze ‘sausage’. Secure with tape (on the gauze not the skin)

Help and Advice

Paediatric Limb Reconstruction Service

Kim Allen, Support Worker
Tel: 0114 271 7575

Jonathan Pagdin, Clinical Nurse Specialist
Tel: 0114 271 7575

Sam Pollard, Associate Clinical Nurse Specialist
Tel: 0114 2717575

Is something missing from this resource that you think should be included? Please let us know

Contact us


Please note: this is a generic information sheet relating to care at Sheffield Children’s NHS FT. These details may not reflect treatment at other hospitals. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professionals’ instructions. If this resource relates to medicines, please read it alongside the medicine manufacturer’s patient information leaflet. If this information has been translated into another language from English, efforts have been made to maintain accuracy, but there may still be some translation errors. If you are unsure about any of the guidance in this resource or have specific questions about how it relates to your child, always ask your healthcare professional for further advice.

Resource number: PLR7

Resource Type: Article

How useful did you find this resource?*


Western Bank
S10 2TH

United Kingdom

Switchboard: 0114 271 7000

Interesting Facts

We’ve got a special MRI scanner just for teddies so children can see what it’s like before they have a scan.

Help to transform our extraordinary hospital into something even better.


By continuing to use the site, you agree to the use of cookies. more information

The cookie settings on this website are set to "allow cookies" to give you the best browsing experience possible. If you continue to use this website without changing your cookie settings or you click "Accept" below then you are consenting to this.