Clinical and Radiographic Assessment of The Young Adult With Symptomatic Hip Dysplasia

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Acetabular dysplasia is a major precursor of osteoarthritis of the hip. It is important to identify patients before the development of osteoarthritis, because these patients may be candidates for joint-preserving surgery, such as pelvic osteotomy. Patients with hip dysplasia, and no osteoarthritis, present with unique findings on history and physical examination. On history, patients should be questioned for symptoms unique to dysplasia, such as locking, snapping, and feelings of instability. Physical examination should look for signs of labral disease, by using the impingement test. Patients suspected of having symptomatic dysplasia should have plain radiographs, including an anteroposterior radiograph of the pelvis taken with the patient standing, a false profile view, and an abduction view of the hip. The anteroposterior radiograph of the pelvis and false profile view will help to quantify the degree of the dysplasia. The abduction view is important in determining the patient’s eligibility for joint-preserving hip surgery. Computed tomography scanning and magnetic resonance imaging are reserved for patients who are operative candidates. Computed tomography scanning can aid in the planning of complex pelvic osteotomies. Magnetic resonance imaging especially is useful for delineating labral disease. It is this combination of history, physical examination, and radiographic workup that will allow successful treatment of the dysplastic hip before the development of osteoarthritis.

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