What to Expect on Hip Dysplasia Surgery Day


This post may contain affiliate links. Please read our disclosure policy.

Is your baby or toddler having surgery to correct hip dysplasia? Having survived three hip dysplsia surgeries with our toddler, we have a pretty good idea of how it will all shake down. Here’s what to expect on hip dysplasia surgery day.

*This post contains affiliate links which means I earn a small commission on your purchase.

What to Expect on Hip Dysplasia Surgery Day

Sara’s surgery was set for 10 am on November 1. We were supposed to arrive at the hospital at 8:15 which meant we would have to leave our house around 7:30 am.

The night before, Sara took one really long bath, a shower, and then decided to get back in the bath with one of her siblings. πŸ™‚ Since she really loves the water and won’t be able to bathe while she’s casted, we humored her, and it was quite funny to see her go back and forth between bath and shower. We had to wipe her down with special anti-microbial wipes the hospital gave us and then were not allowed to put any lotion or cream on her skin. I told her she needed to nurse a lot that night because she would be cut off at 5:30 in preparation for the surgery.

The lack of nursing had really worried me and I’d prepared for a fight. I had been incorrectly told that she wouldn’t be allowed ANYTHING after midnight, including breastmilk. After researching and having a few friends research as well, I had found enough sources to convince me that cutting off nursing 4 hours prior to surgery would be completely safe. I had printed numerous sources stating that fact and took them all with me to her pre-op appointments because I was bound and determined to convince her surgeon that she should be allowed to nurse most of the night. I was glad to find out that the person who told me midnight just didn’t know. The cut-off had been 4 hours prior all along and I researched for nothing. It kept my mind off the bigger surgery, so I guess I’m glad I had breastmilk to think about instead of the surgery! πŸ˜‰

The Day of Hip Dysplasia Surgery

Anyhow, we arrived at the hospital late the morning of her surgery and it didn’t really matter because her surgeon was running behind too. We had to occupy her for quite some time. The staging area had a little wagon we were able to put her in and we wandered the halls for a good hour and a half. I was determined not to let her see me upset as I didn’t want her to catch on to my somber mood. It was one of the hardest things I’ve done and I am so thankful my dear husband was there to keep her. She doesn’t get mad at him for not nursing her! πŸ™‚ And he’s much more stoic than I am.

We played peek-a-boo in the halls. She watched all sorts of medical professionals in different stages of surgical dress (hats, masks, gowns) and saw all kinds of medical instruments moving from place to place. She also spent quite a lot of time learning how to use Daddy’s iPhone to look at pictures of Kee’s (kitties). Occasionally I had to disappear because I did not want her seeing me cry. I was mostly an emotional wreck. But not once did she see tears in my eyes and I think having us act jovial helped her overall demeanor as well.

And then finally, they came for her at 10:45. Daddy was dressed to accompany her to the OR and off they went. I could not take her to the OR but it was important to me that one of us do it. I’m glad Dan was able to take her.

Taking her back to the OR on Hip Dysplasia Surgery Day

The anesthesiologist told us to expect her to struggle. They were putting her to sleep with a mask before inserting her with needles of any kind, and he said normally kids don’t like the mask as it starts to stink. When they got to the OR, the anesthesiologist asked which finger he should put the pulse ox on and she held up a finger for him which made the staff laugh. Then they put the mask on her and according to Dan, she just closed her eyes and went to sleep without a struggle.

And then the waiting began. Dr. Weinstein said the surgery could take up to 4 hours depending on what all they would have to do. They had to type her blood and have blood available for a possible transfusion. They inserted a catheter and she was given a caudal block so her bottom half would be numb.

We got a bite to eat and some coffee. I had been avoiding sugar for several weeks to try to boost her immune system. But that morning, I drank coffee with lots of sugar! πŸ™‚ We received several cryptic messages about her progress but it was hard to figure out exactly what was going on. Around 1:30, Dr. Weinstein appeared in the waiting area.

He told us that he was able to get her hip back in place with minimal effort. She was so loose that he basically manipulated it to the socket without even cutting her. However, he needed to release the tendons to keep the hip in place so he performed an adductor tenotomy. While he had her cut open, he also cleaned out her hip socket. He told us her socket is big and deep which was good to hear. Often children with hip dysplasia have shallow sockets that prevent the femoral head from staying put. I was relieved to hear that that’s not the case with Sara. And then he told us the best news of all! We could go home that very night if we wanted. We had prepared for a 3-5 day stay so we were thrilled to leave that night.

And then we went to find our groggy, unhappy baby.

The one condition for leaving was that she had to pee first. She was casted in a very wide position which makes diapering quite difficult. The one downside to the easier surgery is that instead of being casted for only 6 weeks, she’ll most likely be casted for 12! It’s not even been quite one week yet, and that thing is already starting to smell. It’s going to quite ripe after 12 weeks!

Want more information on Hip Dysplasia and Spica Life? Read these posts:

Preparing for your baby’s hip surgery

Entertaining a toddler in a spica cast

Must have supplies for spica cast life

Tips for spica cast cut-off day

You can find our wholeΒ Hip Dysplasia story here.

About Michelle Marine

Michelle Marine is the author of How to Raise Chickens for Meat, a long-time green-living enthusiast, and rural Iowa mom of four. She empowers families to grow and eat seasonal, local foods; to reduce their ecological footprint; and to come together through impactful travel.

You May Also Like:

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


  1. It sounds like she’s a trooper! (Although that grumpy face suggests otherwise! πŸ™‚ ) Hang in there… eventually, this will just be a story you embarrass her with in front of her friends!

  2. I think your camera sensed your tears, and kept the photo of her heading off to surgery a tad blurry – perfectly captured. πŸ™‚ So glad recovery is going well!

    1. Actually, the blurriness is just courtesy of my crappy blackberry phone… πŸ™‚ One of these days I will have a super, cool iPhone!

  3. Oh these photos remind me of what an emotional roller coaster having a child in the hospital is. You have to be strong for them, then disappeare to have a mini melt down for yourself… It’s rough. But great news that you really had no hospital stay. Even though it’s tough having her grumpy and uncomfortable, it’s always easier dealing with that at home. I’m so glad to hear everything went so well! Bummer about the whole 12 weeks in a cast… YIKES!! Thanks for the update!!

    1. Thanks, Cara!! I’m secretly hoping the cast still comes off in 6 weeks. Keep the healing thoughts rolling, right!? πŸ™‚

  4. Glad things went well. When I had new employee training at ChildServe the guy in charge said his daughter was in the same cast and they wedged a diaper in the cast and then one on the outside. But he said the smell was bad even though they tired that. Good luck!

  5. If the cast doesn’t get to come off at 6 weeks. We can hope they will at least trade it out for a fresh one at 6 weeks! Here’s hoping it comes off all together at 6 weeks and you are done…the odds appear to be in your favor so far!

  6. I’m glad to hear that the surgery went well and that she only needed a closed reduction. I know it means more time in the cast, but hopefully this way her prognosis is better than you had initially thought. And honestly, every week and month in the cast does get better and it soon becomes a way of life. Even diaper changes get to be routine after a while. πŸ™‚

    My daughter has had her cast off for almost two months now and is walking again. We’re thrilled to see that after three months of the cast! She may need a pelvic osteotomy in a few years, but for now we just need regular x-rays to see how her hip is developing.
    Best wishes as you all adjust to life in the spica!

    1. Yay, Jennifer! I’m glad Bronwyn is done with the spica!! I just peaked at your blog and see you have a new baby, too!! Double congrats to you!! πŸ™‚