Medical Q&As

Congenital dislocation of the hip - late diagnosis?

I have been told that my 8-month-old son may have a dislocated hip. Is it possible to have gone unnoticed for this long? What will this mean for him?

Congenital dislocation of the hip is relatively common and affects approximately 1 in 250 babies. A hip test is performed on all young infants in an attempt to detect this abnormality early but some infants may not have the classical signs soon after birth and may not be picked up until later. It is certainly possible for a congenitally dislocated hip to remain undetected for several months. If your son does prove to have a dislocated hip there need not be any great concern for him even though he was not detected until 8 months. If the diagnosis is confirmed it may be necessary for him to wear a harness or splint for some weeks or months. Surgery would not usually be indicated in such circumstances. Once a child is treated before he starts to walk he should be able to walk normally without a limp and will not suffer any long-term consequences. However, if the condition was not diagnosed until after the child started to walk then surgery might be indicated.