What the heck is Hip Dysplasia and how did Willow get Diagnosed?
It was an ordinary Wednesday. After a busy day of watching my sweet niece, Willow and I rushed out the door to the pediatrician. She had a routine 6 month check up, or so I thought. The doctor pushed her knees up to her chest and out in a circular motion. She had done this before at all of her check ups and had never noticed anything. This time there was a concerned look on her face. My motherly instincts knew something was wrong, but what?
The doctor looked up at me and said I needed to go straight to the hospital for x-rays. She said something about the possibility of hip dysplasia. Willow was too old for an ultrasound, which is the best way to see a clear picture of her hips. An x-ray was the only other way.
Away we went straight from the pediatrician to the Children’s Hospital (thank goodness I packed extra formula). I called my husband on the way and said I was unsure of why we needed x-rays but that the doctor seemed concerned. Willow was a champ at the hospital. She was missing her 3rd nap of the day and being hauled all over the hospital as I searched for the radiology department. During the x-ray, the technician had Willow lay flat on her back with her legs straight out. I helped hold her down and keep her somewhat happy. The second position was with the bottoms of her feet together and her knees out in a frog position. The technician viewed the x-rays, saw they were clear, and sent us on our way home.
Then we waited.
It was a long 24 hours until we received a hard phone call from our pediatrician. Willow had hip dysplasia. We didn’t know the severity of it or what our treatment would be. We had to wait until the orthopedic department of the hospital could get us in. As it turns out Children’s was booked and couldn’t even get us in for a consult for a month. So Gillette Children’s called and was able to see us the following week.
The waiting was the worst. I did so much research in that week and didn’t like what I found. Because Willow was 6 months old there was slim to no chance a brace would work to correct her hip dysplasia, no matter the severity. It seemed like a spica cast and some sort of surgery was going to be our only option. I cried… a lot. And prayed. I thought about all of the things Willow would miss out on in a big cast. She was just beginning to push herself up on her hands and knees and rock back and forth. She was so close to crawling, and I was so excited to see her reaching new milestones. There were so many fears racing through my mind and my sweet husband did his best to keep me grounded.
Neither my husband nor I had any idea what hip dysplasia even was. I mean if it was really that bad Willow would clearly be showing some sort of pain.. right? Wrong.
Hip dysplasia is the deformation or alignment of the hip joint. Hip dysplasia is a silent condition in babies. Babies bones haven’t fully calcified yet so it isn’t until kids are older than one year of age that they can start experiencing pain and side effects. There are all different severities of hip dysplasia. Sometimes the hips are completely displaced outside of the hip socket (dislocated) or they are just shifted slightly.
The day had finally come to go see the pediatric orthopedic surgeon. Dr. Weber was so sweet and kind. She examined Willow’s hips and asked us some questions about her birth and medical history. Breech babies are the highest risk for hip dysplasia. Willow wasn’t breech. My labor with her was long but other than that there wasn’t anything out of the ordinary. She was a healthy 9 lb 13 oz, vaginally delivered baby. Dr. Weber pulled up Willow’s x-rays and that’s when we saw it. Her left hip was completely displaced. The femur bone was actually creating an indent in her pelvis, trying to create a new hip socket. Willow’s right hip was also off, but only by a few degrees. Dr. Weber talked us through some options, but in her experience, surgery was our best bet. It wasn’t going to be a super invasive surgery, only a little incision with one clipped tendon. The biggest hurdle would be the cast. 12 weeks in a spica cast. A cast that would start under her shoulder blades and go all the way down to her ankles. I was thankful I had done so much research otherwise I would’ve lost it in the doctor’s office. I knew surgery and a cast was most likely our next steps and I wanted our girl to get better.
The surgery was scheduled for 2 weeks out and the preparation began.