How will my child’s doctor diagnose hip dysplasia?
DDH is usually discovered during a child’s check-up with his or her doctor. The doctor might notice asymmetry of the skin fold on the front of the hip and in the gluteal (buttock) area, limb length inequality (one leg that is shorter than the other), limited hip abduction (movement of spreading the legs apart), a limp in the child’s walk or a dislocating hip. Here’s a breakdown of diagnosis by age group:
Birth to One Month of Age
Diagnosis is based on a physical exam of the hips. If the physical examination is normal but there are risk factors for DDH (female gender, breech birth and family history of DDH), the pediatrician may require an ultrasound of the hips that usually is done around the sixth week of life. An ultrasound uses high-frequency sound waves to view the hip socket, with no radiation risk to your child. In young infants, the bones that make up the hip joint are primarily made of cartilage and x-rays are not helpful to diagnose DDH.
If the hip exam performed by the pediatrician or primary care doctor is abnormal, your child may be referred to a pediatric orthopedic hip specialist at Children’s Hospital Colorado.
One to Four Months of Age
If your child’s doctor thinks he or she may have DDH after a physical exam, or if risk factors are present, he or she will likely order an ultrasound of the hips.
Four months of age and older
After 4 months of age, there is enough bone formed in the hip joint that doctors can use a hip x-ray to diagnose DDH.