Nonsurgical Treatments for Developmental Hip Dysplasia

Orthopedic experts at Hassenfeld Children’s Hospital at NYU Langone recommend treating babies with developmental hip dysplasia who are younger than 18 months old, when the chance of repositioning the hip joint without surgery is greatest.

Pavlik Harness

The Pavlik harness is the most commonly used method of correcting hip dysplasia in babies younger than six months old, whose bones are still quite soft. The harness is made of flexible straps that are attached to the baby’s shoulders, trunk, and legs, keeping the ball of the hip joint in the correct position within the socket. Babies who wear the harness can move their legs freely.

During treatment, your child may wear the harness up to 24 hours a day for the first six weeks. For another month, he or she wears it for just a few hours each day. As your baby grows, the properly positioned hip joint develops normally. Clothing and diapers can be worn underneath the straps of the harness.

Von Rosen Splint

If the Pavlik harness is not completely effective, our specialists may recommend using a von Rosen splint for the treatment of developmental hip dysplasia. The splint is made of a firm, bendable material that allows for customized placement around the baby’s shoulders and thighs.

When worn for six weeks or longer, the von Rosen splint supports the baby’s hips in the correct position. Our orthopedic nurses check the position of the splint on a weekly basis and temporarily remove it to bathe your baby.

Spica Cast

A spica cast may be recommended to reposition the hip joint when earlier treatments are ineffective and when babies are diagnosed with developmental hip dysplasia after six months of age. The spica cast is hard and made of fiberglass, covering your child’s body from the chest to the legs.

Babies with developmental hip dysplasia typically wear a spica cast for three months. A new, larger cast is applied after the first cast has been on for six weeks to accommodate your baby’s growth. Our doctors monitor your child’s progress and the repositioning of his or her hip joint with periodic X-rays or ultrasound.

Specialists at Hassenfeld Children's Hospital understand that caring for a baby who is wearing a spica cast can be challenging. Throughout the process, our doctors and nurses teach you and your family members how you can best care for your child, from picking up and bathing your baby to changing diapers.

Closed Reduction

Closed reduction is a nonsurgical procedure used to treat children younger than two years old who have developmental hip dysplasia. Using this method, the surgeon manually places the ball of the hip joint back into the socket while the baby is under general anesthesia. A spica cast is usually applied after closed reduction, ensuring that your child’s hip joint remains properly positioned while it heals.

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