Hip Dysplasia

What is Hip Dysplasia?

Dysplasia is a condition of abnormal development of the acetabulum, the socket portion of the ball and socket hip joint. Essentially patients with dysplasia have an abnormally shallow socket, shaped more like a saucer than a cup. The result is that the force that is transmitted across the hip joint passes through a smaller area of contact area. With less area for force distribution there is an increase in contact pressure within the hip joint which can lead to pain, labral separation, and ultimately degenerative changes in the hip joint.

When does Dysplasia occur?

Dysplasia has been called Congenital Hip Dysplasia (meaning present from birth) and also Developmental Hip Dysplasia (meaning occurring during hip development) because the abnormality is generally present to some extent at birth but can change and evolve as the hip joint grows during childhood.

I was told I had dysplasia as a child, but I have already been treated, could it still cause problems now?

Yes, possibly. Some people are successfully treated for dysplasia early in childhood and their hip goes on to develop relatively normally, others despite treatment continue to have some degree of abnormality and for some patients this may go on to produce significant pain and degenerative changes.

How is Dysplasia treated?

The answer depends on a number of factors including: the severity of dysplasia, the degree of symptoms, patient age, patient activity level, and the quality of the cartilage in the hip joint or the presence of arthritis. For young adults, if dysplasia is significant and is causing significant symptoms which have failed to respond to conservative measures such as physical therapy or over the counter pain medications, surgical intervention may be appropriate.

What are the most common surgical treatments for Hip Dysplasia in adults?

  • Peri-acetabular Osteotomy:
    • For patients with painful hip dysplasia and healthy cartilage in the hip joint, peri-acetabular osteotomy or PAO can reorient the socket to improve coverage. This can reduce pain and may decrease the risk of degenerative changes that necessitate replacement.
  • Hip Replacement:
    • If hip dysplasia results in significant degenerative changes and cartilage loss in the hip then replacement of the joint surface with a prosthesis is sometimes the best option. When the cartilage is severely damaged, hip replacement can dramatically reduce pain and restore function.