Developmental Hip Dysplasia

Developmental hip dysplasia is a congenital deformity of the hip joint present at or shortly after birth that causes one or both hip joints to dislocate. In most cases, hip stability is restored using a non-surgical positioning device.

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Causes of Developmental Dysplasia of the Hip

Developmental Dysplasia of the Hip | Normal vs. Dislocated Hip illustration

Developmental dysplasia of the hip (DDH) is an abnormality of the hip joint that is present at birth or shortly thereafter. It occurs when the femoral head is not held firmly in the hip socket. Most often is found in babies or young children, developmental hip dysplasia can affect one or both hip joints.

At Children’s Orthopaedic & Scoliosis Surgery Associates, we have 7 board certified orthopaedic surgeons with fellowship training in pediatric orthopedic care. We understand that when your child is born with a condition like hip dysplasia, it can be a scary and stressful time. Our goal is to treat your child as if they were our own, providing compassionate and expert care from start to finish.

Contact the Children’s Orthopaedic and Scoliosis Surgery Associates for more information regarding treatment options

DDH may cause complete dislocation of the hip joint or the socket may be too shallow resulting in partial dislocation. Common factors that can increase a patient’s risk of having DDH include:

  • First born child
  • Female
  • Breech delivery
  • Family history of the disorder

The most common method to determine if a patient is suffering from developmental dysplasia of the hip is a physical exam to determine if the hip joint is instable or loose.

Diagnosing Developmental Dysplasia of the Hip

Developmental Dysplasia of the Hip | Infant Hip Movement illustration

If an infant is at risk for developmental hip dysplasia, the pediatrician or orthopaedist may recommend an ultrasound to help diagnose and confirm the condition. DDH is painless for newborns so they do not show any symptoms, however signs of DDH include:

  • Unequal leg lengths
  • Uneven skin folds on the upper thighs/buttocks
  • Less flexibility on one side, particularly abduction
  • Limping, toe walking, or waddling in an ambulatory child

In addition, the orthopaedic surgeon may order ultrasounds or x-rays to confirm the diagnosis or to exclude other problems.

Developmental Dysplasia of the Hip Treatment Options

Developmental Dysplasia of the Hip | Infant in Brace

While there is no guaranteed method to prevent a newborn from developing developmental hip dysplasia, treatment for DDH is successful if diagnosed at a young age. When treated appropriately DDH will not cause any difficulties or delays as the child continues to grow and develop.

The goal of treating DDH is to prevent the development of degenerative arthritis of the hip, which will otherwise occur in untreated or inadequately treated DDH. In early infancy, a non-surgical positioning device, known as a Pavlik harness, is used to keep the hips flexed and abducted. The infant will typically wear the harness for 2 to 3 months, or until the instability has resolved and the hip is anatomically reduced. Some individual patients may need longer bracing periods. Using serial ultrasounds or radiographs, the pediatric orthopaedic surgeon will follow the patient’s improvement closely, up to several years.

If hip dysplasia is identified in the first few months of life, it can usually be treated successfully with a Pavlik Harness. If measures to reduce the hip are unsuccessful or if the problem is first detected in an older child surgery may be necessary.

Developmental Dysplasia of the Hip in Tampa-St. Petersburg, Florida

With 7 fellowship trained pediatric surgeons specializing in orthopaedics and scoliosis, the Children’s Orthopaedic and Scoliosis Surgery Associates team provides state-of-the-art comprehensive care, both surgical and non-surgical, to patients suffering from congenital orthopaedic anomalies, such as developmental hip dysplasia. To learn more about developmental hip dysplasia, please schedule an appointment at one of our Tampa-St. Petersburg locations.