What is hip dysplasia?

The hip joints are what allow the legs to move back and forth freely. The hip joint has two major parts: the ball (also called the femoral head) and the socket (the acetabulum). When the components of the hip joint aren’t properly formed, the problem is called hip dysplasia. Hip dysplasia could involve a problem with either the femoral head (such as the femoral head being outside the socket) or the acetabulum (such as an acetabulum that is too shallow to fit the femoral head inside it) or both. Hip dysplasia often is a congenital (from birth) condition but also can be acquired after birth. Hip dysplasia is most common in first-born girls, babies with a family history of hip dysplasia, babies born in breech position, or babies who have experienced a lack of intrauterine fluid while in utero.

What are the symptoms of hip dysplasia?

Typically, your baby’s physician diagnoses hip dysplasia by using special maneuvers of the hip joint, which are known to cause a clicking in a hip affected by hip dysplasia. If your physician feels the hip clicking, a hip ultrasound will be ordered to assess the hip joint. If hip dysplasia isn’t treated, it may lead to pain, arthritis, and the need for a hip replacement later in life.

How is hip dysplasia treated?

In young babies, the treatment is a special brace called a Pavlik harness, which allows the hips to adapt and grow into the correct position. If the Pavlik harness does not work, there are two main options. The first option, for babies generally between six months and one year of age, is a spica cast, which must be placed while your baby is under general anesthesia. The second option, for children over one year of age, is surgery to reshape the hip joint to help the ball and joint fit better together. After surgery, the child will have a spica cast to hold the hip in proper position.

About surgery for hip dysplasia at Children’s

The surgery for hip dysplasia is performed by the accomplished pediatric orthopedic surgery team at Children’s. Orthopedic surgery teams at Children’s provide next-generation care to children from throughout the Upper Midwest and consistently perform some of the most cutting-edge surgical procedures available, including minimally invasive surgery, when appropriate. Hip dysplasia surgery is performed at Children’s – Minneapolis, Children’s – St. Paul, and Children’s Minnetonka.

  • If you are a family member and you’d like to make an appointment at our clinic locations in Minneapolis or St. Paul, please call Children’s Orthopedic Clinic main line at 651-220-5700.
  • If you are a health professional looking for a consultation or referral information, please call Children’s Orthopedic Clinic main line at 651-220-5700.