Background: We retrospectively studied the outcome of Pavlik harness treatment in late-diagnosed hip dislocation in infants between 6 and 24 months of age (Graf type 3 and 4 or dislocated hips on radiographs) treated in our hospital between 1984 and 2004. The Pavlik harness was progressively applied to improve both flexion and abduction of the dislocated hip. In case of persistent adduction contracture, an abduction splint was added temporarily to improve the abduction.
Methods: We included 24 patients (26 hips) between 6 and 24 months of age who presented with a dislocated hip and primarily treated by Pavlik harness in our hospital between 1984 and 2004. The mean age at diagnosis was 9 months (range 6 to 23 mo). The average follow-up was 6 years 6 months (2 to 12 y). Ultrasound images and radiographs were assessed at the time of diagnosis, one year after reposition and at last follow-up.
Results: Twelve of the twenty-six hips (46%) were successfully reduced with Pavlik harness after an average treatment of 14 weeks (4 to 28 wk). One patient (9%) needed a secondary procedure 1 year 9 months after reposition because of residual dysplasia (Pelvis osteotomy). Seventeen of the 26 hips were primary diagnosed by Ultrasound according to the Graf classification. Ten had a Graf type 3 hip and 7 hips were classified as Graf type 4. The success rate was 60% for the type 3 hips and 0% for the type 4 hips. (P=0.035). None of the hips that were reduced with the Pavlik harness developed an avascular necrosis (AVN). Of the hips that failed the Pavlik harness treatment, three hips showed signs of AVN, 1 after closed reposition and 2 after open reposition.
Conclusion: The use of a Pavlik harness in the late-diagnosed hip dislocation type Graf 3 can be a successful treatment option in the older infant. We have noticed few complications in these patients maybe due to progressive and gentle increase of abduction and flexion, with or without temporary use of an abduction splint. The treatment should be abandoned if the hips are not reduced after 6 weeks. None of the Graf 4 hips could be reduced successfully by Pavlik harness. This was significantly different from the success rate for the Graf type 3 hips.
Level of Evidence: Therapeutic study, clinical case series: Level IV.