Orthopaedic Conditions in the Newborn

Wudbhav N. Sankar, Jennifer Weiss, and David L. Skaggs J Am Acad Orthop Surg 2009 17: 112-122.

The occasional consultation on a neonate can be unfamiliar territory for many orthopaedic surgeons. Just as children are not little adults, newborns are not just little children; rather, they have a unique physiology that affects the presentation of their orthopaedic concerns. Careful physical examination with appropriate understanding of neonatal development is essential to making the proper diagnosis. A flail extremity in the newborn is most commonly attributed to fracture or brachial plexus palsy; however, infection must also be considered and ruled out to prevent long-term morbidity. Metatarsus adductus is the most common foot abnormality, but clubfoot, calcaneovalgus deformity, and congenital vertical talus may also be encountered. Joint contractures that spontaneously improve are normal in the newborn, but it is important to identify and institute proper treatment for early developmental dysplasia of the hip, congenital knee dislocation, and torticollis. Clavicular pseudarthrosis and periosteal reactions may be discovered on radiographic examination. A basic understanding of the relevant conditions will help the orthopaedist with the initial diagnosis and management of orthopaedic issues in the newborn.

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