Child Orthopedics

Frequently Asked Questions

My wife and I are new parents as of a week ago. While we were in the hospital, we were advised to have an ultrasound study of our child's hips. The ultrasound shows if there is a problem with hip dysplasia. We decided to avoid the cost and possible trauma to the baby. Now I'm having second thoughts. Should we have this test done? Is it too late?

Early detection of developmental dysplasia of the hip (DDH) is important. Treatment can prevent serious complicatoins later. In many cases, the condition can be resolved without surgery or other invasive methods.

Screening is usually done by the pediatrician in the hospital at the infant's first exam. Simple hip motion tests are carried out by the doctor. If there is any sign of a problem, then further testing is advised. This method of assessment is called selective screening.

Some experts advocate universal screening. With universal screening, every infant is given an ultrasound (US) exam of the hips. The best time to do this may be between three and six weeks after birth.

So, you are not too late if you change your mind and decide to have the US testing done. US may not be needed if there are no risk factors for DDH, and the child had a normal first exam.

Talk to your pediatrician about your concerns and questions. Make sure you take the baby to all the scheduled well-baby check-ups. This condition can develop later after a normal test present in the early weeks. The pediatrician or a trained member of the physician's staff will repeat the tests several more times until it's clear the infant is no longer at risk of DDH.

Nicola M. Portinaro, MD, MSc, FRCS. The Role of Ultrasonography in the Diagnosis of Developmental Dysplasia of the Hip. In Journal of Pediatric Orthopaedics. March 2007. Vol. 27. No. 2. Pp. 247-250.

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