We studied the use of overhead traction in the treatment of congenital dislocation of the hip in thirty-five children (fifty hips) whose mean age at the time of the diagnosis was thirty-three months (range, eighteen to seventy-two months). None of the children had had any previous treatment. The mean time in traction was twenty-three days (range, eight to thirty-six days). Closed reduction was successful for relocation of the femoral head in thirty-eight of the fifty hips; twenty of these hips needed no additional treatment, sixteen were treated with an innominate osteotomy because of severe acetabular dysplasia, and two needed femoral derotation and an innominate osteotomy to correct persistent subluxation. In the remaining twelve hips, closed reduction failed at the outset and an open reduction was necessary. Femoral shortening also was performed in seven of the twelve hips to maintain concentric reduction.
After a mean duration of follow-up of forty-eight months (range, thirty-two to sixty-five months), thirty-three hips were rated as class 1; seven, as class 2; four, as class 3; and five, as class 4, according to the criteria of Severin. The remaining hip could not be so classified. Avascular necrosis developed in two hips that had been treated with closed reduction followed by Salter osteotomy and in three hips that had been treated with primary open reduction. We found that preliminary overhead traction facilitated closed reduction of untreated congenitally dislocated hips in children who were eighteen to seventy-two months old.