Background: The Medical Research Council Working Party on Congenital Dislocation of the Hip have reported an ascertainment-adjusted incidence of a first operative procedure for congenital dislocation of the hip (CDH) of 0.78 per 1000 livebirths, which is similar to the incidence of CDH before the start of the UK screening programme. The report showed that CDH had not been detected by routine screening before age 3 months in 70% of children reported to the national orthopaedic surveillance scheme. This report raised concerns about the merit of screening at birth for CDH. We aimed to find out the incidence of an operative procedure for CDH in the first 5 years of life among children born in South Australia between 1988 and 1993, and the proportion of these patients that were detected at age 3 months or older.
Methods: The state's database for inpatient separations between January, 1988, and April, 1998 was searched. Case records were examined for the age and circumstances of diagnosis, and type of operative procedures. Prevalence rates of CDH were obtained from the South Australian Birth Defects Register, which receives notifications from a statutory perinatal data collection of birth defects detected at birth and subsequent voluntary notifications for children up to age 5 years.
Findings: Of the 55 children born in South Australia between 1988 and 1993 identified as having non-teratological CDH and operative procedures, only 22 (40%) had been diagnosed at age 3 months or older. 18 had an open reduction of the hip joint or osteotomy, or both, and the remainder had arthrograms, closed reductions, and/or tenotomy. The prevalence of non-teratological CDH in children was 7.74 per 1000 livebirths. The incidence of surgery for CDH in the first 5 years of life was 0.46 per 1000 livebirths (95% CI 0.34-0.59) and only 0.19 per 1000 livebirths (0.11-0.26) for those diagnosed late (age 3 months or older). These children diagnosed late represented 2.4% of all known cases of CDH.
Interpretation: Only 2.4% of known cases of CDH in children born in South Australia had been detected late and required surgery. These results show that a screening programme for CDH can be successful, contrary to the findings of the UK Medical Research Council Working Party.