Traumatic Hip Dislocations in Children and Adolescents: Pitfalls and Complications

J Am Acad Orthop Surg, Vol 17, No 1, January 2009 José A. Herrera-Soto, MD and Charles T. Price, MD

Traumatic hip dislocation is an uncommon injury in children. Lack of familiarity with management of the treating physician may lead to complications. Hip dislocation in young children can occur with minor trauma; in adolescents, greater force is required to produce a traumatic complete hip dislocation. Transient hip dislocation with spontaneous but incomplete reduction is a diagnostic pitfall that can occur in adolescents. Any asymmetric widening of the hip joint warrants additional investigation. Most dislocations in children can be reduced with gentle manipulation. Urgent reduction of the hip within 6 hours of injury reduces the risk of osteonecrosis. However, closed reduction in adolescents should be performed with caution because of the risk of displacement of the femoral head during manipulation. Open reduction is indicated when closed reduction fails or when there is interposition of bone or soft tissue following attempted closed reduction. Late complications include osteonecrosis, coxa magna, and osteoarthritis

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