Hip dysplasia is an abnormality of the hip joints. It is usually present at the time of birth and it is vital the problem is detected soon after, as this will ensure a positive outcome. If there is a delay in diagnosis, treatment will not be as effective and may lead to long-term complications.
What is hip dysplasia?
Hip dysplasia is when the head of the femur (thigh bone) or the hip socket is an irregular shape. This means the leg cannot connect to the hip properly. There may be some contact between the two, in which case there is a subluxation, or there may be no contact, in which case there is a dislocation.
It is not always known what causes hip dysplasia, although it is normally present from birth. A difficult delivery – such as a breech birth – can increase the risk, as can a family history of the condition and decreased amniotic fluid during pregnancy (a condition known as oligohydramnios).
How should hip dysplasia be diagnosed and treated?
Soon after birth, a baby should be examined by a doctor to check whether he or she is healthy and well. This includes looking for any symptoms of hip dysplasia. The most obvious sign is a clunking sensation in the hip when the leg is moved outwards. Others include having one femur longer than the other and unsymmetrical folds between the legs and body.
If these problems are identified in a newborn baby, he or she should be closely monitored for the first few months to see if the condition rectifies itself. If the hip has not become stable by the fourth month, an ultrasound scan should be carried out to assess whether or not there is a joint abnormality. If hip dysplasia is diagnosed, a device called a Pavlik Harness should be used to hold the hips in place.
What if there is a delay in diagnosis and treatment?
After three months the hip should be in the correct position and treatment will be successful. But normally this is only the case if a Pavlik Harness is applied before a baby is six months old. After this the Pavlik Harness will not be effective and surgery will be necessary to move the hip into the correct position. Evidently this is far more invasive and will not always lead to a successful outcome, as the bones will have already developed and will not be as easy to manipulate. This can result in permanent pain and arthritis in the hip joint.
Claiming for a delayed diagnosis of hip dysplasia
If medical professionals failed to diagnose hip dysplasia in the early stages, causing your child to develop long-term complications, you could be entitled to pursue a medical negligence claim for the terrible impact this has had one your son or daughter’s life.
To find out more about claiming for your child’s hip dysplasia, speak to a solicitor at 1stClaims today.