Screening for developmental dysplasia of the hip: recommendation statement

United States Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF). Screening for developmental dysplasia of the hip: recommendation statement. Rockville (MD): Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality; 2006. 10 p. [48 references]
The USPSTF concludes that evidence is insufficient to recommend routine screening for developmental dysplasia of the hip in infants as a means to prevent adverse outcomes.
I Recommendation.*
The pathophysiology and natural history of developmental dysplasia of the hip (DDH) are poorly understood. There is evidence that screening leads to earlier identification; however, 60% to 80% of the hips of newborns identified as abnormal or as suspicious for DDH by physical examination and >90% of those identified by ultrasound in the newborn period resolve spontaneously, requiring no intervention. There is poor evidence (poor quality studies) of the effectiveness of both surgical and non-surgical interventions; avascular necrosis of the hip (AVN) is reported in 0% to 60% of children who are treated for DDH. Thus, the USPSTF was unable to assess the balance of benefits and harms of screening for DDH but was concerned about the potential harms associated with treatment of infants identified by routine screening.
*Note: Standard language associated with the grade I recommendation is "The USPSTF concludes that the evidence is insufficient to recommend for or against routinely providing {the service}." For this specific recommendation, the USPSTF modified the language to indicate the lack of evidence that screening for a condition with a poorly defined natural history would improve health outcomes while there is evidence that interventions cause known harms.
Clinical Considerations
This USPSTF screening recommendation applies only to infants who do not have obvious hip dislocations or other abnormalities evident without screening. DDH represents a spectrum of anatomic abnormalities in which the femoral head and the acetabulum are aligned improperly or grow abnormally. DDH can lead to premature degenerative joint disease, impaired walking, and pain. Risk factors for DDH include female gender, family history of DDH, breech positioning, and in utero postural deformities. However, the majority of cases of DDH have no identifiable risk factors.
Screening tests for DDH have limited accuracy. The most common methods of screening are serial physical examinations of the hip and lower extremities, using the Barlow and Ortolani procedures, and ultrasonography. The Barlow examination is performed by adducting a flexed hip with gentle posterior force to identify a dislocatable hip. The Ortolani examination is performed by abducting a flexed hip with gentle anterior force to relocate a dislocated hip. Data assessing the relative value of limited hip abduction as a screening tool are sparse and suggest the test is of little value in early infancy and is of somewhat greater value as infants age.
Treatments for DDH include both nonsurgical and surgical options. Nonsurgical treatment with abduction devices is used in early treatment and includes the commonly prescribed Pavlik method. Surgical intervention is used when DDH is severe or diagnosed late or after an unsuccessful trial of non-surgical treatments. Evidence of the effectiveness of interventions is inconclusive because of a high rate of spontaneous resolution, absence of comparative studies of intervention versus nonintervention groups, and variations in surgical indications and protocols. Avascular necrosis of the hip is the most common and most severe potential harm of both surgical and nonsurgical interventions and can result in growth arrest of the hip and eventual joint destruction with significant disability.