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Summary: A prospective trial was carried out to assess the outcome of children aged from 2 to 6 weeks with stable but dysplastic hips, treated with abduction splintage or by observation. Forty-four patients with 63 dysplastic hips were entered into the study and allocated into the two treatment groups at random. The ultrasound measured percentage acetabular cover in the splinted group improved in the first 3 months from an average of 32.8 to 54.3%. In the unsplinted group, the increase in cover was from 36.7 to 48.6%. The changes in cover for the splinted group were significantly more than those for the unsplinted group (p < 0.003) There was, however, no significant difference between the two groups in acetabular angle measurements on plain radiographs taken at 3 months. At 24 months, similarly, there was no significant difference in the acetabular angles of the two groups. These results support the view that stable dysplastic hips will correct with growth and that there is no sustained benefit from early splintage.

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