Developmental dysplasia of the hip represents a spectrum of conditions affecting the proximal femur and acetabulum, ranging from acetabular immaturity to hip subluxation and frank hip dislocation.
The Barlow and Ortolani screening tests are recommended up to 6 months of age, although they begin to lose their sensitivity and usefulness around 3 months of age due to increased musculature. Thereafter, limited and/or asymmetric hip abduction suggests the diagnosis.
Ultrasound may be used to confirm an abnormal hip examination, but should be used with caution as a preliminary screening test due to the high number of false positive results.
There is a high rate of spontaneous resolution of hips identified as abnormal by both clinical examination and ultrasound in the neonatal period. Frank dislocations and persistently abnormal examinations should be referred to a paediatric orthopaedist.
Most cases can be treated non-surgically using an abduction harness (Pavlik harness).
Surgery is required for children with severe DDH or those who have failed treatment with an abduction harness, and in older children.
The term developmental dysplasia of the hip (DDH) represents a spectrum of conditions affecting the proximal femur and acetabulum, ranging from acetabular immaturity to hip subluxation and frank hip dislocation. In true DDH, the femoral head has a persistently abnormal anatomical relationship with the pelvic acetabulum, which leads to abnormal bony development that can ultimately result in premature arthritis and significant disability. This is distinct from transient dysplasia, which represents acetabular immaturity in which the anatomical relationship stabilises and normalises over a period of weeks to months.
History and exam
Key diagnostic factors
- positive Ortolani test
- positive Barlow test
- limited hip abduction
Other diagnostic factors
- abnormal positioning of the leg or delayed crawling/walking
- toe-walking (especially unilateral)
- female sex
- positive family history
- breech presentation
- postural deformity
- restricted intrauterine space
- incorrect lower-extremity swaddling
1st investigations to order
- ultrasound of hips
- hip x-ray
<6 months of age
6-18 months of age
>18 months to 6 years of age
>6 years of age
- Acetabular immaturity
- Proximal femoral focal deficiency
- Residual effects of septic arthritis
- Evidence-based clinical practice guideline: detection and nonoperative management of pediatric developmental dysplasia of the hip in infants up to six months of age
- ACR Appropriateness Criteria: developmental dysplasia of the hip - child
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