The ‘clicky hip': TO REFER OR NOT TO REFER?

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Abstract

Aims

The significance of the ‘clicky hip' in neonatal and infant examination remains controversial with recent conflicting papers reigniting the debate. We aimed to quantify rates of developmental dysplasia of the hip (DDH) in babies referred with ‘clicky hips' to our dedicated DDH clinic.

Patients and Methods

A three-year prospective cohort study was undertaken between 2014 and 2016 assessing the diagnosis and treatment outcomes of all children referred specifically with ‘clicky hips' as the primary reason for referral to our dedicated DDH clinic. Depending on their age, they were all imaged with either ultrasound scan or radiographs.

Results

There were 69 ‘clicky hip' referrals over the three-year period. This represented 26.9% of the total 257 referrals received in that time. The mean age at presentation was 13.6 weeks (1 to 84). A total of 19 children (28%) referred as ‘clicky hips' were noted to have hip abnormalities on ultrasound scan, including 15 with Graf Type II hips (7 bilateral), one Graf Type III hip, and three Graf Type IV hips. Of these, ten children were treated with a Pavlik harness, with two requiring subsequent closed reduction in theatre; one child was treated primarily with a closed reduction and adductor tenotomy. In total, 11 (15.9%) of the 69 ‘clicky hip' referrals required intervention with either harness or surgery.

Conclusion

Our study provides further evidence that the ‘clicky hip' referral can represent an underlying diagnosis of DDH and should, in our opinion, always lead to further clinical and radiological assessment. In the absence of universal ultrasound screening, we would encourage individual units to carefully assess their own outcomes and protocols for ‘clicky hip' referrals and tailor ongoing service provision to local populations and local referral practices.

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