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Clever thinking helps babies avoid major surgery

Hip Displaysia Mums
Media Release
Posted 24 May 2021

Three babies born with dislocated hips have avoided major surgery after staff at the Women’s and Children’s Hospital (WCH) implemented alternative treatment for the families.

Three babies born with dislocated hips have avoided major surgery after staff at the Women’s and Children’s Hospital (WCH) implemented alternative treatment for the families.

WCHN’s Head of Orthopaedic Surgery, Associate Professor Nicole Williams, said all three babies were born with hip dysplasia (dislocated hips) and the usual treatment of bracing was unsuccessful for all.

“Our usual treatment for dislocated hips failed for all three babies. We discussed the options with the families and came to the decision that we would like to avoid major surgery if we could”, Associate Professor Williams said.

“We decided to try hip traction, an alternative treatment for hip dysplasia that requires the patient to spend one to two weeks in hospital, which has been incredibly effective for all three babies.

“I identified that two of the patients needed treatment at the same time, so we organised for the babies to be admitted on the same day and in beds next to each other, which has given the mothers (from Darwin and Port Lincoln) an opportunity to bond and support one another.”

Major surgery, particularly for patients so young can cause the baby and their family’s large amounts of stress and potential trauma.

Women’s and Children’s Health Network (WCHN) chief executive officer, Lindsey Gough, said creative thinking by WCHN staff allowed for the least invasive treatment for the babies, while also enabling the best possible outcome.

“We always strive to empower our clinicians with the right knowledge and tools so they can make the best decisions for their patients,” Ms Gough said.

“This is an example of clinicians thinking outside the box, making the right decision for each individual child and their family.”

The WCHN’s Department for Orthopaedic Surgery registers all cases of hip dysplasia with the International Hip Dysplasia Institute in order to contribute to further research in the field.

The Department is also conducting its own research into hip dysplasia to gain an even more in-depth understanding of the benefits of traction, benefiting young children and babies in the future.