Developmental dysplasia of the hip or DDH is a growth disorder in babies that affects their hip ball and socket joint. While it can seem like an extremely stressful situation for parents, you don’t need to worry too much. This is a treatable condition as pediatricians are highly adept at detecting hip dysplasia in the early stages. With careful treatment, dysplasia of the hip can be treated as early as 6-12 weeks. If you want a deeper understanding of how the diagnosis of DDH works, this blog is a great resource for you. We’ll cover everything you need to know if all your questions are answered.
What are the Methods of Diagnosing DDH?
Orthopedic pediatricians diagnose the majority of DDH cases during their infant wellness assessments. If an infant shows symptoms of DDH or has a family history risk the healthcare professional will administer these tests:
- Ultrasound: this method takes the help of sound waves to generate images of the infant’s hip joint. This is the best method of diagnosis for children below 6 months of age. The reason behind using this method is that the baby’s hip joint consists of soft cartilage. An X-ray works on bones better and won’t accurately display what the doctor is looking for.
- X-ray: This method is used for children older than 4 to 6 months of age since the bones would have formed well enough to show on the X-ray scans.
Understanding Hip Ultrasound as Parents
A hip ultrasound is a test to create an accurate image of your child’s hip bone and joint. This is completely painless and safe.
During the ultrasound, black and white imagery will display the structure of the hip joint, including the ball and socket joint that connects the femur to the pelvic bone.
Why Would Your Child Need an Ultrasound?
Orthopedic pediatricians ask for a hip ultrasound test if they think there is an issue with the way the ball and socket joint of the hip are connected. Developmental dysplasia of the hip can form soon after birth, before birth, or in the early growth stages of the baby.
In a baby whose hip is functioning well, the ball of the femur rests comfortably in the pelvic socket. In infants with DDH, the ball and socket are not well-aligned, leading to the ball moving back and forth, making it prone to dislocation.
Hip dysplasia is likely to occur in the following cases:
- If a fetus stays in the uterus with amniotic fluid loss, thus getting cramped up.
- In case the pregnancy has a breech baby, especially in the third trimester.
- If there are more cases of hip dysplasia in your family.
Also, hip dysplasia happens more often to birth-assigned females than males and in first-born cases.
The pediatrician will take into account all of the above-mentioned points while taking the call to get a hip ultrasound in babies. Additionally, the infant will be prescribed an ultrasound if the specialist senses any hip abnormality while conducting a wellness assessment, such as:
- The lack of mobility to move their thigh at the hip outward as far as a newborn can at birth.
- Feeling or healing a click while rotating the baby’s thigh outwards in physical checkups.
- If there is a difference in the symmetry of folds under the butt or thighs.
- Legs don’t align at the same height.
How to Prepare for Hip Ultrasound as a Parent?
Usually, a parent doesn’t need to do anything extraordinary to prepare their child for a hip ultrasound test. All you need to be mindful of is informing the ultrasound technician if your child is on any medications before the session begins. Make sure that your child is wearing a clean diaper before the test and carry extras.
What Can a Parent Witness During a Hip Ultrasound?
The hip ultrasound generally takes place in the radiology section of a healthcare clinic or at a radiology center. Parents are allowed to accompany their babies to provide them support and reassurance.
Parents are then asked to undress their child partly and remove the diaper for the test. The child is placed on a table on their back in a dark room for the most accurate imagery.
A sonographer will apply a cool, clear gel to the hip of the baby so that the ultrasound device can be used smoothly. The gel also assists better transmission of ultrasound waves. The trained sonographer will gently move around an ultrasound wand or transducer over the gel-covered skin. It emits high-frequency sound waves for the computer to create images based on how the sound waves bounce back.
Both the hips of the baby will be examined by ultrasound for better comparison. The pediatrician may join in and take a few more images for clarity. An ultrasound session lasts for about 25 minutes or less.
Can Mommies and Daddies Help During a Hip Ultrasound?
The parent’s presence in the room is enough! While the procedure is absolutely painless, the baby may feel nervous around the technician if they are scared of strangers. There will be a slight pressure applied over the hips as the wand is moved. The gel can feel cool and wet to the baby.
Sometimes, babies can cry during the test if they are restrained or because it is dark, but this is nothing to worry about.
A radiologist will examine the images of the baby’s hip ultrasound and then provide a report to your pediatrician. Then they will call you in and discuss the results with you. This procedure can take about 1-2 days.
Are there any Risks of Hip Ultrasound?
There are no risks involved in a hip ultrasound. While X-rays can have a few risks attached, this test is the safest approach.
How can Mommies Soothe their Babies?
Make sure that your baby has an empty bladder and is fed before the ultrasound. This will ease off most of the stress. If they have separation anxiety, make sure you stand where they can see your face to stay calm. Reaffirm and reassure them with soothing sounds and baby talk during the procedure.
A hip ultrasound is perfectly safe and a very useful tool in detecting DDH in infants. It can be worrisome if you’re a new parent, but hip dysplasia can be treated using nonsurgical and surgical methods. Once the diagnosis is confirmed, the doctor will discuss your options and you can clarify all your queries with them.