Developmental dysplasia of the hip (DDH) is the most common hip condition affecting infants and children. DDH represents a spectrum of issues affecting the hip joint – a “ball-and-socket” joint. When the femoral head (the “ball) is seated properly in the acetabulum (the “socket”), the hip is stable and can develop normally. However, when the femoral head is not well-seated, the hip can become unstable or dislocate. This instability or dislocation of the femoral head prevents the hip joint from developing normally during infancy and early childhood. If left undetected or untreated, it can lead to debilitating complications later in life.
Careful clinical examination, quality ultrasound and paediatric radiology are essential in determining the health of the infants hip.
The early management of the condition usually involves a period of bracing of the infant for a period somewhere between 8 to 12 weeks. If bracing fails or the child presents late with an undetected hip dislocation surgical correction is required with less predictability of outcome.
In an ideal world all hip dysplasia would be detected early; clinical examination, risk factors and hip ultrasound would categorise the type of dysplasia and the appropriate treatment would be instigated and long term followup arranged.
Untreated or inadequately treated DDH accounts for 25% of all cases of osteoarthritis of the hip and usually presents earlier than the normal degenerative type of arthritis
Take a deep dive
If you want to know more about hip dysplasia watch the following education module
This module was developed by Assoc Prof Leo Donnan to teach the essentials of the clinical diagnosis of hip dysplasia for doctors, nurses and physiotherapists. More than 20,000 practitioners from around the world have completed the full education module