Developmental Dysplasia of the Hip (Hip Dysplasia) - Diagnosis & Treatment

How is hip dysplasia diagnosed?

Your doctor will screen for developmental dysplasia of the hip (DDH) when you bring your child in for his or her regular health checks. Your doctor will gently manoeuvre your child’s hip and legs into a variety of positions to see whether the hip joint fits together well.

Mild cases of DDH can be difficult to diagnose. You may not notice any problems until you are a young adult. If your doctor suspects DDH, he or she might recommend imaging tests, such as X-rays or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) for you.

How is hip dysplasia treated?

Your doctor will treat hip dysplasia depending on:

  • The age of the affected person
  • The extent of the hip damage


If your baby is younger than 6 months, your doctor may use a soft brace, such as a Pavlik harness, to hold the ball portion of the joint firmly in its socket for several months. This helps to mould the socket to the shape of the ball.

Babies older than 6 months

Your doctor may move the bones into the proper position and hold them there for several months with a full-body cast. Sometimes, surgery may be needed to fit the joint together properly.


Treatment includes the following:

  • For borderline hip dysplasia with labral tear, treatment is arthroscopic hip surgery.
  • For severe hip dysplasia, a hip osteotomy is performed, where an orthopaedic surgeon reorientates the acetabulum and/or the femur to allow more normal acetabular coverage of the femoral head. In adults, the most common of this is a periacetabular osteotomy.
  • For dysplasia with secondary hip osteoarthritis (severe damage to the hip joint cartilage), a total hip replacement is performed.
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