1. What is hip dysplasia?
Congenital Hip Dysplasia and Developmental Hip Dysplasia (DDH) are two names for the same condition. A baby with DDH has an abnormally shaped hip socket. The socket (acetabulum) in some cases is very “shallow” and cannot effectively contain the hip ball (femoral head) within itself. In other cases the socket is only slightly misshapen.
2. What is a congenital hip dislocation?
A “congenital hip dislocation” means that a baby’s femoral head is located outside of the socket where it is normally located.
3. What are the consequences of untreated DDH?
A baby with a hip dislocation or two dislocated hips will walk abnormally from the time she starts walking. The resulting walking deficit is very bad. A person who has hip dysplasia without a dislocation will develop arthritis at an early age.
4. How is DDH diagnosed?
In this country, primary care physicians screen babies for DDH. When your baby’s doctor is examining your baby’s hips she is evaluating her for DDH. Also the primary care physician asks you questions to see if the baby has DDH risk factors. If your family’s history, baby’s history, or your baby’s physical examination shows symptoms or signs concerning for hip dysplasia, you are usually referred for an ultrasound and/or a pediatric orthopedics consultation.
5. What is a Pavlik Harness?
A Pavlik Harness is the most common device pediatric orthopedists use to treat DDH. It looks like a set of baby over-alls. Babies tolerate them well. It maintains the baby’s hips in the position that the socket (acetabulum) best contains the femoral head (ball). A baby’s acetabulum is made of malleable growth cartilage and the socket molds around the ball into a normal shape over a 6 weeks to 3 months.
6. Does the Pavlik Harness work?
Almost always. The harness sometimes fails to correct true dislocations. Your pediatric orthopedic surgeon will progress to another treatment plan if the pavlik harness is not working.