Acetabular dysplasia

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Acetabular dysplasia

X-ray of a severe case of acetabular dysplasia. The socket is very shallow, the ball of the hip is beginning to slide out of the socket, and the joint is degenerating.

What is acetabular dysplasia?

This describes a shallow hip socket, or one that doesn't point in the normal direction. In some cases, patients will know that they had clicky hips or unstable hips as a baby; they may have been treated with braces or even surgery. In other cases, patients will have had no idea that there was anything wrong with that hips until they started to hurt.

What happens to dysplastic hips?

There is good evidence that dysplastic hips wear out more quickly than normal hips. Most people with dysplasia first develop pain as a mild ache in the groin in their late teens or early 20s. This gradually gets worse as the acetabular labrum and the adjacent articular cartilage begins to wear out. If not treated, a dysplastic hip is one reason for needing a hip replacement at a relatively young age.

Can acetabular dysplasia be treated?

It is possible to perform an operation to re-orientate the hip socket so that the ball of the hip fits more deeply into it. There are several techniques for doing this, but the method most often used by Professor Griffin is called a peri-acetabular osteotomy. This is a big operation, which is sometimes preceded by a hip arthroscopy in order to judge the condition of the joint and determine whether an osteotomy will be worthwhile. In some circumstances, the joint damage is already so severe that a hip resurfacing or hip replacement is the only reliable solution.