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Congenital Dislocation Of The Hip

Congenital Dislocation Of The Hip

Alternate Names

  • CDH
  • congenital dysplasia of the hip
  • congenital subluxation of the hip
  • developmental dysplasia of the hip
  • acetabular dysplasia


This condition refers to malformation of the hip joint during the development of the unborn child. In this condition, the head of the thighbone or femur, does not sit properly in the socket of the pelvis.

What is going on in the body?

Joints and bones usually grow normally during the development of the unborn child. However, in a small percentage of newborns, the pelvis has not formed its usual deep socket. Therefore, the head of the thighbone can slip partially or completely out of the socket.


What are the causes and risks of the condition?

This condition can be caused by the way the legs of the baby are positioned in the womb. It is more likely to occur in people with a family history of the disorder. It also affects girls more often than boys.
It is three times more likely to occur in the left hip than the right. It is more common after a breech delivery, among large babies and in multiple babies (twins, triplets, etc.).
Congenital hip dislocation is frequently associated with other conditions such as spina bifida, sternomastoid torticollis, foot deformities or Down syndrome.


What can be done to prevent the condition?

There is no way to prevent this condition.


How is the condition diagnosed?

Most of the time, a healthcare professional can detect this condition when examining a newborn's hips. The healthcare professonal may do an Ortolani test, in which the thighs are spread apart, or the Barlow test, where the knees are brought together, to listen for the characteristic "click" or "clunk"that is heard with congenital hip dislocation.
Less evident cases can be confirmed by joint x-rays. Rarely, these x-rays can be performed with the injection of dye into the hip joint. Detection can also be made by doing special tests, such as ultrasound or MRI.
The earlier the diagnosis is made the better are the chances for normal hip function.

Long Term Effects

What are the long-term effects of the condition?

It is possible that the hip joint will continue to develop poorly. This can result in a short leg, a limp, restricted motion of the joint, and painful arthritis. For some patients the end result may be the need for hip replacement surgery.

Other Risks

What are the risks to others?

There are no risks to others.


What are the treatments for the condition?

Treatment is directed toward the development of a normal hip joint. The head of the femur and the socket of the pelvis tend to develop more normally when they are correctly positioned next to one another. This can be achieved by using a harness, a brace, or a cast.
If these methods don't work, the pediatric orthopedic surgeon may recommend an operation on the hip, ligaments, and tendons, called an open reduction of the hip.. A cast will be placed afterward to help hold the hip in the socket.
Follow-up joint x-rays can determine the degree of success. In young children, it may be necessary to operate on the pelvis to redirect the structures and/or the upper end of the thigh bone (femur).

Side Effects

What are the side effects of the treatments?

Side effects include possible discomfort from a brace or cast. If surgery is needed, side effects can include nausea and vomiting from the anesthesia, and infection from the surgery site.

After Treatment

What happens after treatment for the condition?

If treatment has begun within the first 3 months of life treatment is usually successful and no further treatment is necessary. The older a child is the more complicated and lengthy treatment may be. Treatment may involve multiple operations and braces. Satisfactory hip function is difficult to restore if a child is older than 5.
Possible complications include:
  • the joint fails to respond to treatment
  • the hip becomes partially or completely dislocated again
  • the femoral head lacks a blood supply
  • one leg ends up being shorter than the other
  • arthritis or infection


How is the condition monitored?

Periodic checkups with the healthcare provider are helpful.

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