Wednesday, July 20, 2011

My little purebred puppy


The day Elsa was born, the first pediatrician to evaluate her noticed a "clunking" in her hip sockets. Newborns have flexible hip joints because they are still a malleable cartilage and not yet solid bone. Hip dysplasia (misalignment of the hip joint) is less commonly seen (1% of baby girls have it, 12% if they were born breech) and is usually diagnosed after a moving ultrasound is taken of the baby's legs moving in and out, and the leg bone is seen popping in and out of the hip socket. Elsa had the ultrasound done the day after she was born and we were referred to an orthopedist who we saw this morning.

The orthopedist agreed that she had unilateral (on her left side only right now) hip dysplasia and it would be best to correct it immediately since she is so little and her chances of having normal hips after treatment this early is very good. Treatment for hip dysplasia at her age is thankfully not surgery, but with the use of a cloth harness that she wears. It looks like a cross between lederhosen and a parachute harness, and it brings her legs up and out like she's doing a squat. She has to wear the harness 24/7 for 6-8 weeks to ensure her little hip joints form the bone properly, with her acetabula snuggled nicely inside the sockets. After those 6-8 weeks, another ultrasound or x-ray is done to monitor her development and she gets weaned from the harness wearing it for another 1-2 months for various hours of the day, mostly at night when she sleeps. The harness doesn't hurt her (it's soft on the parts that touch her skin) and since we're getting it on her while she's so young, she doesn't really know any different. Fitting a harness on a three month old is much more difficult. Luckily it doesn't really affect diaper changes (and actually makes them a little easier since her legs are in a more fixed position and not squirming all over the place) and we now hold her like a football facing out which she seems to really enjoy.

You never want to hear that there is something that can pose a challenge to your little baby's development, but in the grand scheme of things, this is a minor bump in the road and one that she won't even remember. We are so *SO* blessed to have a healthy little baby, and this will be over before we know it. The real bummer about this is that she can't wear her adorable little baby leggings and socks for awhile. Sad face. I'll just have to put her in little dresses until the harness comes off. Luckily we have a few of those lying around...

4 comments:

ET said...

Thanks for explaining all of this in detail, Liv. That way you don't have to explain it over and over again to everyone on the family and to friends. One of the (many) advantages of a blog.

I am very glad this was diagnosed so early so that the simple adjustment can be made now that she is so little and won't really notice.

I wish they could have done this when my mother was born, as that could have saved her a lot of pain she experienced later in life due to her hip problems.

I can't wait to come down and give Elsa a BIG hug....

Unknown said...

Doesn't seem to bother her a bit. She's just happy to be with her mommy and daddy!

Nikki Menda said...

Poor little boo! She looks quite adorable, though. I'm super happy she doesn't have to have surgery, and that it was caught early. Hugs!

Kelly Jeanne said...

Love that pic of you and Elsa! The mouse and cookie your mom made is so adorable! I read that book with my kiddos all the time, do you know there are a few in the series now? My fav is "if you give a cat a cupcake"!