The thigh bone’s connected to the hip bone – that’s what the song says. But sometimes that connection doesn’t work so well, which is the result of a hip socket that is too shallow – a condition known as hip dysplasia.
The hip is the largest “ball and socket” joint in the body, held together by ligaments, tendons and a joint capsule. The hip socket is designed to hold the femur tightly to prevent it from coming out of the socket while allowing enough motion to permit a wide variety of activities. Hip dysplasia simply means that the hip is in the wrong shape, most commonly, the hip socket is too shallow and not positioned to fully cover the femoral head.
Most people with hip dysplasia are born with the condition. Many patients never have any symptoms of dysplasia as a child. However, if left untreated, many patients with hip dysplasia will progress to arthritis in their 30’s or 40’s, if not before. Hip arthritis can be a debilitating condition.
Treatment for hip dysplasia depends on the age of the affected person and the extent of the hip damage. Infants are usually treated with a soft brace that holds the ball portion of the joint firmly in its socket for several months, helping the socket mold to the shape of the ball.
But some forms of the condition can develop later in life. Older children and adults usually require surgery to correct hip dysplasia. In mild cases, the condition can be treated arthroscopically — using tiny cameras and tools inserted through small incisions. However, if the dysplasia is more severe, the position of the hip socket can also be corrected or cuts can be made in the bone around the socket (an osteotomy) to increase its depth.
In many cases, the condition will lead to tear of the labrum and eventual arthritis because of damage to the cartilage in the socket. Total hip replacement is possible to improve pain and function in this situation.
Our providers have extensive experience in treating patients of all ages with hip dysplasia. The majority of patients with hip dysplasia are treated with surgical procedures including the periacetabular osteotomy (PAO) or “Ganz” osteotomy. This procedure, only performed by a small handful of physicians in Georgia, offers the ability to correct hip dysplasia and potentially avoid the need for a hip replacement. This exciting treatment has offered patients with hip dysplasia a hope for returning to normal activities.
Learn more about Emory’s experienced, board-certified hip specialists who provide the best possible treatment for a wide range of conditions affecting the hip. Pediatric orthopaedic patients should click here to learn more about the variety of pediatric orthopedic conditions we treat.
If you are considering a pediatric orthopaedic procedure at Emory, we encourage you to make an appointment by calling 404-778-3350 or completing our online request form by clicking the banner below.
About Dr. Bradbury
Thomas Bradbury, MD, enjoys hip and knee arthroplasty because of the consistency of success in the properly selected patient. Dr. Bradbury’s professional goal is the improvement in quality of life for patients with pain secondary to hip and knee problems.
His research interests center around infections involving hip and knee replacements which are rare, but difficult problems. Dr. Bradbury is researching the success rate of current treatment methods for hip and knee replacement infections caused by resistant bacteria (MRSA). Through his research, he hopes to find better way to both prevent and treat periprosthetic hip and knee infections.