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Hip-baby Disclaimer

Annika was born on Sept 24th 2002 after a relatively exhausting pregnancy. With severe morning sickness for the first 5 months and fatigue throughout, we found out at week 37 that she was breech. We choose a c-section for her actual due date and within minutes of her delivery she was diagnosed with dislocated hips by the hospital’s pediatrician. We had no idea that being in a breech position could cause additional problems besides the hazards of a c-section. She was our first born, a girl but to our knowledge low amniotic fluid or heredity was not a factor.

Over the next few days, 3 pediatricians from our pediatric group confirmed the dislocation and scheduled an appointment at the Children’s Hospital with a pediatric orthopedic surgeon. We were told to double diaper her with disposable diapers in the hospital, then use (thick) cloth diapers at home. We were also told that we had a 95% chance of ‘fixing’ her hips with a harness. At the appointment, she was fitted with a preemie size Rhino Kicker in hopes to ‘place’ both her right and left hips. A week later the doctor confirmed that her right hip ‘felt’ stable but the left was still out. We were fitted with a small size Rhino Kicker. We were not allowed to remove the harness, but the doctor did allow us to sponge bath her at the office visits and have the nurse refit the harness. We continued with the Kicker for a total of 2½ weeks then we were fitted with a Rhino Cruiser abduction brace in hopes to place the left hip.

After 3 weeks in the abduction brace, we had an ultrasound. The result was that the right hip looked (and felt) fine, but the left was on the ‘edge’. Keeping her in the brace could have caused additional damage to the hip so our only option was surgery.

Annika was ‘free’ for about 6 weeks – no harness, no brace until a few days shy of her 3 month birthday. The surgery was at 7:30am (we couldn’t feed her after 3:30am). Of course we all hoped for a closed reduction on her left hip and nothing on the right. The surgeon could not get the left hip to stay in place once it was put in the socket. Therefore, he did what he called a ‘mini’ open reduction. He adjusted the socket so the femur bone would stay in place.

After the initial surgery and casting, I was allowed to see her in the recovery room. She was crying hysterically and it was the saddest thing ever. Her face was swollen and red, she was in a huge cast with her legs practically straight out. I asked about her face and they said it was a result of the anesthesia and her crying was from coming out of it. I knew that she had to be hungry and constantly tried to breastfeed her but she wouldn’t take it. She cried for about an hour when the surgeon returned after changing another baby’s cast. He was concerned that she was still so upset and decided that maybe her legs were too far apart. They decided to redo the cast, so Annika was placed under anesthesia for the second time that morning.

There was a change in anesthesiologists and this time he gave her a spinal before the surgeon reapplied the cast. When I was allowed to visit her in the recovery room the second time, she was sleeping like a baby and her face seemed more normal.

Annika had a total of 4 casts. She should have only had 2 but the first one was redone and 3 weeks later we decided to change it again due to a crease in her leg that we were concerned was creating a pressure sore.

Annika was in the spica cast for 11 weeks and 6 days. The first 3 casts were lined with gortex which was rather easy to clean although it tore easily and we had to tape it to prevent the cotton was getting soiled. The last cast had a gauze liner which was much more difficult to keep clean and dry. Most days Annika wore 3 diapers, and sometimes 4 (one shoved in the front, in the back, then normally in the ‘hole’, then over the top.)

The last cast was removed in the doctors office and much to my surprise, her skin was very good. There were no pressure sores and her legs were still chubby! I expected raw, skinny legs that would need lots of tender loving care. We gave her a bath that afternoon and she didn’t like it one bit, but within a week she was loving baths. She never had a real bath in the tub until the cast was removed (at 5 ½ months old).

For the following month, Annika was in a Rhino Cruiser abduction brace full time except for baths and changes. Over the next 3 months she wore the brace for sleeping only. Prior to each appointment she was x-rayed. Index numbers were not discussed (I believe because the x-ray was done by a third-party and the leg placement was not exact enough). But the doctors (we had 2) commented on the growth of the socket and the femoral head. We not out the woods yet, but there is a good chance that we will not have to have further surgery, but of course, we will be monitoring her for years to come.

See picture