‘Hearing’ hip dysplasia in infants

Case Study

‘Hearing’ hip dysplasia in infants

Date: February 19, 2019

An electronic acoustic sensor that can detect hip dysplasia in newborn babies could better equip doctors to identify the condition – and reduce the need for children to have corrective surgery after late diagnosis.

Daniel Perry, a consultant surgeon at Liverpool’s Alder Hey Children’s Hospital is leading the project, called SHINE – Screening the Hips In NEwborns. Researchers at Liverpool John Moores University are contributing technical expertise required to develop the prototype device and the IKC is supporting the project’s commercial development. The work is funded by Arthritis Research UK as part of its commitment to preventing the onset of osteoarthritis.

“The tools that clinicians currently have for detecting hip dysplasia are pretty poor and even if the baby’s family has spotted that something is amiss, it can be hard to get a diagnosis,” explains Mr Perry. “The tool that we’re developing is relatively straightforward and inexpensive to implement and could completely transform the way babies are tested for this condition.”

Hip dysplasia affects between one and three babies out of every thousand born in the UK each year. If caught early, it can usually be treated with a simple harness to correct the displacement, which can be removed after a few weeks.

Doctors assess newborns for the condition as part of a routine clinical examination. An ultrasound screening will follow if any abnormality is detected.

Despite these tests, around two thirds of cases are not detected at this early stage.

Babies who aren’t diagnosed within the first few months commonly need surgery to reset the ball of the femur back into the hip socket. Procedures can be complex and require the patient to spend several months in spica casts – also called plaster trousers. Late treatment of hip dysplasia can also lead to osteoarthritis later in life.

The development of new technology could not only save huge disruption and distress to families, but it could also represent a significant saving to the NHS.

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