Study objectives: The diagnosis of transient synovitis of the hip ("irritable hip") is made frequently in the pediatric emergency department. We hypothesized that an anti-inflammatory agent (ibuprofen syrup) would shorten the duration of symptoms.
Methods: Patients who were clinically diagnosed with transient synovitis of the hip in the ED between July 1997 and July 1998 were randomized in a double-blind, placebo-controlled trial to receive either ibuprofen syrup (10 mg/kg 3 times a day for 5 days) or placebo. There were stringent exclusion criteria, and patients were only included if there was a low index of suspicion of more serious pathology. All patients had a hip ultrasonography performed at enrollment and at day 7. Symptoms were monitored by the use of a parental diary and clinical review.
Results: Forty patients were initially enrolled, but 4 patients were subsequently excluded, leaving 17 patients in the ibuprofen group and 19 in the placebo group. Although symptoms resolved in more than 80% (30 of 36) of patients in both groups by 7 days, the median duration of symptoms was shorter in the ibuprofen group (2 days compared with 4.5 days in the placebo group; P =.05 on Wilcoxon-Breslow test). The medication was well tolerated, with only minor gastrointestinal side effects being reported by 6 patients (4 ibuprofen and 2 placebo).
Conclusion: In this small study, ibuprofen shortened the duration of symptoms in children with a clinical diagnosis of transient synovitis of the hip.