Definition of Congenital Hip Dysplasia

Congenital Hip Dysplasia is a condition in which the head of the femur (thigh bone) does not properly seat in the acetabulum (pelvic socket) at birth.

Numerous potential causes may account for congenital hip dysplasia, also called congenital hip displacement or developmental dysplasia of the hip. The dysplasia is sometimes apparent at birth; doctors may suspect it when the delivery presentation is breech because this holds the infant’s hips in a flexed position.

Symptoms may include a perceptible clicking, often felt and heard, when moving the legs to activate the hip joint.

Rarely, the leg may be obviously out of alignment with the pelvis. X-RAY can often confirm the diagnosis, though some dysplasias may not be detectable until the infant is older.

The pediatrician may choose watchful waiting for a mild dysplasia. A special brace called a Pavlik harness holds the hips in their proper position in moderate dysplasia, until the connective tissues develop the strength to hold the femur snugly within the acetabulum.

Severe dysplasia or dysplasia that is undetected until the child is walking may require closed reduction, in which the orthopedic surgeon manipulates the joint into place with the child under anesthesia, or open reduction, in which the orthopedic surgeon makes surgical repairs to the joint.

Early and appropriate treatment is important for proper mobility and development of the leg.


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