The Fate of DDH Hips Showing Cartilaginous or Fibrous Tissue-filled Joint Spaces Following Primary Reduction

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Because the use of magnetic resonance imaging is still not universal for the patients with developmental dysplasia of the hip patients, orthopaedists do not generally distinguish widened joint spaces which are “empty” after primary treatment (and therefore still reducible), from those which are filled and much more difficult to treat. To date no studies have focused on the latter hips. We treated and observed the outcomes for 19 hips which showed filled joint spaces after primary treatment.


We retrospectively reviewed 19 cases of developmental dysplasia of the hip: (1) who showed a widened joint space on radiographs after primary treatment; and (2) whose magnetic resonance imaging showed that the widened joint space was accompanied by acetabular cartilage hypertrophy and/or was filled with fibrous tissues. All patients were over 1 year old at the time of primary reduction (reduction was closed in 4 patients, open in 6, and open with pelvic osteotomy in 9). Thirteen patients received at least 1 secondary treatment. Final results were classified using a modified Severin classification.


Final outcomes were satisfactory in 10 (52.6%) and unsatisfactory in 9 (47.4%). The widened joint spaces gradually filled with bone, resulting in a shallow acetabulum in the patients with unsatisfactory results. Of 9 patients who underwent combined pelvic osteotomy at the time of primary reduction, results were satisfactory in 6 (66.7%), whereas all patients who had only closed or open primary reduction had unsatisfactory results.


Combined pelvic osteotomy at the time of primary reduction is advisable in hips with widened joint spaces. However, hips with filled joint spaces after primary treatment often have unsatisfactory results even after additional pelvic and/or femoral osteotomy.

Level of Evidence:

Level IV—prognostic study.

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