Isabelle’s Story

A Long, Hard Road to a Positive Outcome

We hope our story will help other parents who have children with dislocated hips, especially those that are found after walking age and are difficult to treat. After our daughter started walking, we noticed that she was limping and her left leg looked shorter. We took her to the pediatrician and a dislocated left hip was diagnosed at the age of 13 months.


With a dislocated hip, the ball at the top of the thigh bone is up higher, which makes the left leg appear shorter. She had to bend her right knee to stand.

Our lives immediately changed and haven’t been the same since then. We saw an orthopedic surgeon who sent us to a pediatric orthopedic surgeon who had lots of experience with dislocated hips in children. My husband is in the military and we have another child so that made problems seem even worse. However, we both have a positive attitude towards life and that probably helped us as much as anything.

Of course we wondered how our darling daughter could have a dislocated hip that was not diagnosed earlier. We learned that this happens in almost 10% of dislocated hips even though our daughter had good medical care and regular examinations as an infant. There are definitely cases that come out of the socket after the age of six months. Even countries that have had comprehensive screening for decades are still reporting late cases of dislocation. It didn’t help us to blame anyone and it wouldn’t help our daughter recover so we turned our attention to getting her well as soon as possible. That turned out to be a lot harder than we ever imagined.

Brace Wear

We wanted to avoid surgery. A new method was tried called the Hoffman-Daimler method. It’s similar to a Pavlik Harness and successful treatment had been found in Greece. She tolerated it well and didn’t seem to mind but it was hard to get her clothes off and on. Also, it kept her from walking and that was pretty tough on a 13 month old who couldn’t understand what was happening. After six weeks the doctor said that this wasn’t working and she would need the standard treatment of closed reduction and cast treatment. The thought of four months in a cast was frightening but we had no other choice since bracing had not worked.

Note from the IHDI:
When a brace does not correct a dislocated hip, the next treatment options are a closed reduction or surgery involving an open reduction, possibly together with osteotomy. In a closed reduction, the child is put to sleep, and the doctor manipulates the hip joint to get the ball at the top of the thigh bone inside the hip socket. In an open reduction, the doctor surgically opens the hip socket. In an osteotomy, the doctor cuts bone to realign the hip socket and/or the thigh bone. In some cases the doctor tries for a closed reduction, which is less invasive, and if that doesn’t work, will then do surgery. Parents often prefer this approach as well because if the closed reduction works, then surgery is not needed.

Attempted Closed Reduction

At the age of 15 months, our little daughter had general anesthesia for a closed reduction. We expected everything to be fine. It was pretty depressing when the doctor told us that the hip wouldn’t go into the socket because the ligaments were too tight and something was in the socket that kept the hip out.


The arthrogram shows that something is preventing the ball from going into the socket.

We were resigned to open reduction surgery even though we had hoped to avoid that. At least the cast would only be on for six weeks after surgery even though she would need a brace for another six weeks. We thought the end was in sight and surgery was scheduled a couple of months down the road. We had some concerns that the bone in her thigh needed to be shortened and the pelvis needed to be cut. That sounded like a whole lot of surgery for a toddler.

Open Reduction and Dega Osteotomy Followed by a Cast and Brace Wear

When she was 18 months old, the date for the surgery had arrived. We were nervous, especially because nothing we had tried up to then had worked. Why we didn’t do the surgery first seemed puzzling but hindsight is 20-20 and we were told that most children didn’t need surgery. We were even more optimistic that this would succeed when we learned that our doctor had some visitors who wanted to watch the surgery and learn how to do it better from watching our surgeon do the operation.

The surgery took about four hours, but we were confident that our little girl was in good hands. After surgery, the doctor said that the hip did have something inside that kept the hip out of the socket. That had been removed, the bones had been rearranged, and the hip was now in the socket. We saw the before and after x-rays and there was a huge difference.


An x-ray after surgery shows the ball inside the hip socket (Isabelle is wearing a spica cast).

Note from the IHDI:
This child had an open reduction and Dega osteotomy. With a Dega osteotomy, a cut is made in the hip socket, and the bone is tilted downward and out to the side to create more lateral coverage in the hip socket. Pins hold the joint in place as the new bone grows into the place where the cut was made. The child also wears a cast to keep the hip aligned and to provide support.

We were surprised at how fast our daughter recovered. The body cast was a lot more difficult for us than it was for her. We did what we could to keep her occupied and the six weeks passed even though every day seemed like a week all by itself.

She was scared when the cast was removed and her skin looked dry and crusty. There weren’t any sores like we’d been warned, but it took a good bath and some skin lotion to get her to stop scratching. We kept her in a brace for the six weeks although we were allowed to take her out for up to six hours a day. We went back to the doctor two weeks after the cast was removed. Everything looked fine on the x-rays and we were happy to have the big surgery behind us. She started pulling up and walking pretty soon afterwards even in the brace.

We went back for our regular appointments, but four months after her surgery our hopes were crushed when we were told that the hip seemed to be coming out of the socket again. How could that happen? We couldn’t imagine, but we were told that the hip was not completely dislocated so maybe a brace would help keep the hip in the socket until it became more stable. She was fitted for an Atlanta Brace that let her walk, but kept the hips spread so that the hip might go back into the socket.

After another three months of that brace, the hip was farther out of the socket than it had been just four months after surgery. Our doctor had discussed this with other doctors and the only thing to do was to repeat the surgery. He said he would do something different and make the hip stay in this time. Maybe we should have gone somewhere else, but we knew that we had a good doctor with lots of experience so we stuck with him. By now our daughter had spent a year trying to get her hip fixed. She was two years and three months old.


At 9 months after surgery, the ball is coming out of the socket again.

Note from the IHDI:
After the hip is surgically realigned in a child, the hip joint typically grows into a more stable shape as the bones develop. This process of bone growth is called remodeling. If the joint is not stable, and the hip goes out of position, the benefit of remodeling is lost. A Dega osteotomy corrects hip dysplasia in many cases, but unfortunately, in this situation the hip did not stabilize, and the child needed to undergo a second surgery.

Salter Osteotomy


This x-ray taken 3 months after the second surgery shows that the hip joint is stable.


This x-ray taken 3 years after the second surgery shows the hip is stable and the leg lengths have equalized.

The second surgery went about the same as the first surgery except we knew what to expect and so did our daughter. Fortunately, she was still too young to understand but it was hard on us. This time the surgeon said he “was more aggressive” with the bones above and below the hip joint. The joint itself was tightened even more and the cast stayed on for 8 weeks.

She seemed to recover just as well as she had after the first surgery except that the hip stayed in the joint. She limped for almost a year because that leg had been shortened twice and she was pretty weak. Gradually, she regained her strength. A year after her second surgery everything seemed to be fine but she had to have another operation to take out the metal pins, plates, and screws. That went without a hitch and she was only in the hospital overnight. No cast was needed.

Note from the IHDI:
For this surgery, the doctor used a different technique to further correct the shape of the hip socket. He performed a Salter osteotomy. This surgery rotates the whole hip socket on top of the femoral head, allowing more room inside the hip socket. During surgery, the doctor was able to create more room inside the hip socket for the ball, so that it was deeper inside the socket. After this surgery, the socket reshaped and widened to fit the head as the child grew.

She continued to improve and we enrolled her in Karate because we thought that would help her with flexibility, balance and strength. Our precious daughter is now five years old and three years since her last major surgery. She loves karate and the instructors love her. She seems to have all her hip movement. The lengths of her legs have completely recovered like her doctor said it would. Fortunately she doesn’t remember most of what went on to get her hip back in the joint and keep it there. We’ll never forget, but we’ll also remember how great it is to have a healthy child who can do everything like other children her age.

Isabelle is back practicing Karate




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31 Notes

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  1. Paddy ball says:

    Hi isabelle my name is paddy ball I’m 15 years old I go to high school and I’ve got 2 hip displaysia on my left and right hip but now that I’ve had my surgery I feel as though I’m able to do a lot more stuff but next Tuesday I’m getting my pins and plates out of both hips at the same time so your not the only one who has this really sad story my story is also really sad

  2. Jennifer says:

    I am glad I looked at your story , my 5 year old now had been diagnosed at 1yr of hip dysplaysia and infantile scoliosis, after her hip surgeries and has been doing good she still has to wear her cast for her back but, I was told by my mother inlaw that karate was good, i didnt think so and thought it would be bad for hips, I am glad to come across your story and am excited to get her into karate as well, you are brave and happy your are doing better much happiness to you and your family

  3. rachel says:

    So glad I found this as my daughter had the surgery that your daughter had the second time at around the same age your daughter was although she had to be in the spica cast for 16 weeks and had to be sedated 8 weeks after to have wires removed then another cast put on for another 8 weeks. At first we was told she wasn’t allowed to do karate but now three years on she is allowed to give it ago.

  4. barbra says:

    My daughter is 19 months old and is having an open reduction with osteotomy this coming Monday, July 8. We had told the pediatrician for months that something was wrong. she had an abnormal skin fold on her right leg along with a turned out foot and she would only walk a few steps then fall. I’m upset that it wasn’t found earlier to avoid a major surgery, but right now we have to focus on our baby girl. I’m hoping that she will adapt while in the cast/brace and will have a positive outcome like your daughter. thanks for sharing

  5. Emily says:

    Paddy ball… How are you doing now after your last surgery post in January? Are u fully functional and pain free? I hope so.. I hope all is going well…

  6. Marcus says:

    No matter if some one searches for his required thing, so he/she needs to
    be available that in detail, therefore that thing is maintained
    over here.

  7. sunil sharma says:

    I impressd from this story. God may she live long. I am patient of hip i wana take treatment from these doctor.

  8. steve says:

    i am concerned
    My daughter was diagnosed with hip dysplasia a little late, by 18 months. She was in a fiberglass brace for 12 months and the hip managed to realign. The doctor was happy with the result.
    However now, at 3 yrs old , her left foot turns in when she walks.

  9. Cathy says:

    Hi there. Thank you so much for publishing your story. I just found out that my 17 month son needs to have the open reduction surgery and in the process of getting the surgery schedule. Your story is giving some understanding and hope. Thank you again. God bless you and your family!

  10. Rita Weaver says:

    Thank you for this post. My daughter is 12 months and seeing an orthopedic specialist in a few weeks. We are anxious to hear the outcome and hope she will be ok. She happened to see a new doctor in the practice and he made the referral nothing was ever said at her other well visits. I’m trying to concentrate on getting her better and not the time lost. This gives me hope at the end of all of this!

  11. Lynsey Hartley says:

    I am so glad I stumbled upon your story – your positive outcome has helped me. My son was diagnosed with hip dysplasia at 6 weeks old, a pavlik harness failed and he had closed reduction in October 2013 (wearing a cast for 18 weeks) – we found out on Thursday (13/11/14) that the surgery has failed and we are now awaiting an appointment for open reduction and Dega osteotomy. We are understandably anxious but a story like this gives us hope that even after a long road there can be a happy ending. Thankyou.

  12. Dolly says:

    Hi
    I am glad that I read your story… My little daughter was diagnosed with hip displagia at the age of 3 months and was in braces for 10 weeks… After having railed X-ray and US till 1 year the doctor said “everything looks ok ” and they don’t nee to see her any more… But she is 19 months and hasn’t started walking yet… My son started walking at the age of 18 months… So I wasn’t worried about till last months… But now I am really worried

  13. Darelyn says:

    My son is 5 years old now ..he had left and right displays is he still not undergone any operation..where worried cause he still not walk unti now his legs don’t have muscles ..and he also had clob foot.. Can you tell me who is your doctor? And what country are you from?thank you

  14. Darelyn says:

    Dolly are you from what country? I think she needs a physical therapy.. My son is required in physical therapy here in Philippines..

  15. Denise says:

    Hello Isabelle, Just want to know where does this doctor located. My nephew had the same case with your child. Please contact us to this email pinksparkleshop0619@gmail.com this will be a big help to us. Thank you.

  16. Erin says:

    Dear Isabelle, Hope you are doing fine.I am glad that i came across your story.
    My friends baby was identified with hip dysplacia when she was 2 days old. Would you please let me know ,who the doctor is and where he is located.
    Please send an e-mail to ak2505@gmail.com .This will be very helpful as i can inform my friend to take her daughter to that doctor with out wasting time.
    Thank you and god bless you …

  17. Sammy says:

    My baby girl is about to turn 5 and will require a salter osteomy on both hip joints this year. With an approx recovery of 6 months. Have any of you had an older child go through this procedure on both hips? Can you offer any advice?

  18. melissa says:

    Hello my name is melissa. My daughter was born with. Left hip dysplasia. She had her first surgery at 18mos. Old. Her surgery took 6hours. She had an open osteotomy,they had to trim her ligament, and shorten her femur bone. She did the cast surgery went well. Then a yr later i was told she needed another surgery to shape her socket and they brought a specialist in wHich made an artificial ball joint and then they plated and screwed it into place. My daughter did great walking and everything. She is now eight yrs old and has suddenly started walking with a horrible limp and pain in her hip. Shes seen her ortopedic dr,bunch of other drs. ANd tons of xrays but they cant tell me anythings wrong. Does anyone here have any type of information they can help to shed some light on what could be going on?

  19. Robin says:

    Melissa…
    My daughter was born with left hip dysplasia as well. She is now 16 years old. She wore a pavlik harness from birth, had a closed reduction at 3 months, spica casts for 6 months (changing every 8-10 weeks). When she was 7 years old she walked with a very noticeable limp and popping sounds so then she went in for a Valgus producing osteotomy (being cast for 8 weeks). At age 9 she went in to remove the left proximal femur blade plate (again being cast for 6 weeks). At age 15 she went through two more surgeries. The first was to elongate the femur head and to put screws in her right knee to stop the growth plate while her left femur lengthens. The second (4 weeks later) she had a Periacetabular Osteotomy (PAO) for Acetabular Dysplasia. With the use of the CPM machine, lots of rest, a great diet, and physical therapy, she is doing great. She had the use of a scooter for several months along with crutches. Total recovery took about 6 months. She seems to be doing fine now and the doctors say she should be good for another 20 years!
    She had her first surgery (3 months old) at a children’s hospital. Every one of her other surgeries were done by Shriner’s Hospital for Children. I totally recommend taking any child with these and other orthopedic issues to Shriners. They are the best people for helping these kids….its their specialty!!!

  20. Robin says:

    Melissa..
    Sorry at age 7 she had the Salter Osteotomy and age 15 she had the Valgus. Sorry, I was jumping ahead….

  21. Bertha Robles says:

    Please provide me with your doctors contact information. I have both my daughter and son with hip dysplasia. Please Help! The doctor I have now is not doing nothing.

  22. Kal says:

    Would please send me your contact Number and/or e-mail Address to kalpeshbarot1212@gmail.com.My daughter has been diagnosed with DDH at 20 months of age and we are thinking about different treatment option and I have a question about Modified HD method that you have tried from Greece Dr.

  23. Nisa says:

    Hi, Thank you very much for sharing your story. My daughter was diagnosed with DDH (left leg) at birth. She had other more apparent conditions too with both of her legs so the orthopaedic checked her hips too.

    She also had a closed reduction when she was 11 months and it was unsuccessful as the doctor said her muscle was too tight. In May this year, she had the open reduction surgery and femoral shortening. She was put on hip spica cast for 3 months and last 2 weeks, it has been removed :)

    She didn’t take it so well at first, she was afraid to move as it seems, it caused her pain. We were very cautious in touching her leg too as she sometimes would scream in pain.

    But now she seems better and is trying to stand up and walk with support, which I can never be too grateful for :)

    Only that, my husband and I had just noticed, the left leg (the operated one) is now longer than the OK leg. We are horrified as the doctor has warned that this leg will initially be shorter but the body will adjust and after same time the length will be the same. But he never mention about it being longer.

    We are going to see the doctor soon as we have a follow up appointment but I jam ust too anxious to wait for a couple more weeks and would like to ask if the same happened to your child? Or if you know is this expected or common and will the leg adjust back too?

    I have read somewhere about this in the internet when we were ‘researching’ about the surgery but now couldn’t find the link back…huhu.

    I appreciate you reading this, thank you very much for your time :)

  24. Jaye says:

    Hello. I am 48 yrs old and went through that back when I was two years old also. My story is long lol And just now I think I’m started to head towards a replacement. Just a word. I know things have changed in 45 yrs, but keep an eye on the length of the leg. I had all that repaired as well. I’m not sure when exactly it happened but the bone decompressed. I want to say my pregnancy’s caused it. But I lost a half an inch of the 1 inch that was fixed. That caused my pelvis to twist on the left side. I limp. I’m again one inch off. 1/2 leg, 1/2 from the pelvis turning forward. I’m having pain in my lower back and along my spine on the left side. I could be were I’m at because of my age and being one of the first 15 that the Saltier Osteotomy was done on. But, keep your daughter active. I believe it’s what got me this far. I work out with weights, keep my weight down to healthy. I”m 5’1 and 5’2 :) I weight 125lbs. I’ve always done pliate’s. Before they called it that! Keep flexible and stretched. I’m seeing an ortho tomorrow. To see how things are in there and what my options are. Best best best of luck to you and all of you on this page. My email is Jayentom@aol.com is anyone has any questions I may be able to answer. I wish I could find someone my age in this situation if anyone is out there please contact me! :) I’m so happy your baby is doing so well. JoAnne

  25. Rachel says:

    My daughter just had operation on right hip as it was completely out of socket an that leg was shorter than her left leg that’s how I noticed she now has to have cast on for 12 weeks will her legs go same length after cast is off ??? X

  26. Nnenna says:

    My daughter was born with cerebral palsy, she just turned 9 years old this past month. She’s had a lot of difficulties walking up right, in may of 2015 she underwent for surgery called dorsal rhizotomy to correct some leg spasm and tightness to both legs.The surgery provided minimal recovery. Towards end of November she could not walk anymore couple with seizures that she get sometimes. I managed her until Jan,14th 2016 when she had open reduction to left hip, left iliac acetabuloplasty, bilateral hip adduction lengthening, bilateral midial hamstring lenthening and bilateral shortening varus derottional rtational osteotomy done. She’s still recovering, still in the abduction position to have her both hip aligned well in expected positions.
    If any one have had this type of procedures, could you contact me please. I really need encouragement. She is going for her first postop today.

  27. Shafqat munawar says:

    Plz share if anyone had the experience of this surgery at the age of 8 years old, because my daughter has the same problem and the doctor suggested for hip rdduction surgery. She is now 7 years and 8 months.

  28. Jenny says:

    Thank you for your story! And thank you for everyone else that has shared. I don’t feel so alone now! We found out Wednesday that my 18 month old as a dislocated hip, likely since birth or shortly there after. We go to Shriner’s Hospital Tuesday to see where we are going from here. She has had physical therapy every week for months now for all of her delays (not sitting until 11 months, still not crawling or standing). Also all her regular check ups, plus some other specialists and NO ONE has noticed this or suggested hip issues. I pray for no surgery, since she had one at 6 months for an unrelated issue. I just can’t believe these things can go unnoticed for so long!

  29. Brenda says:

    My daughter is now 16 years old and has been told she would benefit from having a rotational femoral osteotomy. She was born with hip dysplasia in both hips, had various harnesses, had closed, then open reduction surgery, finally had the pemberton hip reconstruction in her right hip. She started complaining about hip pain over the past two years. She had an MRI which revealed a torn labrum. Her current surgeon said he could repair the labrum but said it would tear again and recommended cutting her femor and rotating it so it would change the weight bearing in her hip. Has anyone had this done? The surgeon said he is the only surgeon in Calgary doing this. If yes, how are you doing? Did it help? Was there any complications? We are very torn about getting this done and are leaning towards getting her torn labrum repaired and seeing how long that will last and if it will stop her pain. Any thoughts are welcome.

  30. june cambridgr says:

    I can’t believe this is exactly my daughter’s story to the letter unfortunately my daughters second surgery didn’t work and after five yrs and aged seven she underwent an osteotomy as her femur is deformed we were told after this surgery nothing else could be done it was only to try and prolong arthritis till her twentys now she is 27 and expecting her first baby we now have the worry of her not been able to carry full term or have a natural birth we are waiting on results …Will keep you all updated Mrs Cambridge hartlepool England

  31. Kate Smith says:

    I am 43 years old and I think this sounds very similar to my story. My congenital dislocation of the left hip (is that different to DHD?) was noticed at my 8months check.. Don’t know why it wasn’t before. I think I had open reduction then I know I was in a full body plaster for 9 months. Ironically carrying me for all those months in the old fashioned heavy plaster with the bar, which went from a vest shape over my shoulders right to my toes for some reason… Well the weight of me messed up her own hip and she’s never been right since. There are a couple of things I’ve wondered about. First my mum rarely spoke of this time but when I asked her quite a few questions once she described hearing me screaming in the room where the were changing the cast and she was waiting outside – was it normal to wait outside in those days? It seems strange to me to leave a baby all distressed like that with strangers. Second there is not one photo of me for all of that year. Was that common (70s)? Mum told me Dad decided not to take photos and she had agreed but this means a huge chunk of my development was missed out on the family album – which later became quite relevant! Thirdly I have to this day three vertical scars, two down one leg, one down the other. The longest reaches knee to ankle. They were red and raised when I was a child and now they are white. Mum says that the wounds were discovered when the final Spiker cast was removed and the consultant hadn’t been informed and was furious. I think mum was quite in awe of the doctors and didn’t really question it. The consultant told her they would be gone within months but forty years later they are still there. It appears whoever removed one of the casts cut my legs then covered it over with a new cast and didn’t say anything. Anyone else have anything like this? I was totally floppy unable to sit up at 20 months coming out of the plaster but there was no Physio – do they do Physio these days? I’ve revisited this recently because I started to have increasing joint pain and other health problems at age 36 after my 2nd child and after a LOT of messing about I’ve been diagnosed with Ehlers Danlos Syndtome which involves hyper mobility, loose joints and genetically substandard collagen if one type or another. I’ve dislocated several joints. I don’t want to worry current parents of babies with DHD… This was all over 40 years ago and even with these complications I walked normally by age 2.5 – I just never got to take part in the Olympics! And Ehlers Danlos is very rare and an uncommon cause of congenital hip dislocation from what I’ve read. I was just a bit dismayed to discover the information about what my parents and I went through and wondered if anyone had anything similar?

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