Infant having ultrasound performed on left hip.

A new Murdoch Children’s Research Institute and The University of Melbourne project has received funding to help improve outcomes for children and adolescents with painful congenital hip disease.

Associate Professor Leo Donnan secured the $2.5 million Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF) grant to establish a state-wide hip dysplasia registry for children with the condition. The funding was as part of the 2021 Chronic Musculoskeletal Conditions in Children and Adolescents Grant Opportunity scheme.

Hip dysplasia is the most common childhood bone and joint birth defect, affecting about 1.5 per cent of infants and children in Australasia each year, including about 1500 in Victoria.

In babies with this condition, the hip joint does not develop normally, which results in abnormal hip development, instability or dislocation. This can cause substantial pain, disability and decreased quality of life.

Hip dysplasia is usually diagnosed in the first six months of life and either observed or treated with a brace. However, some children with the condition go undetected until late childhood or adolescence.

“Despite various programs, including universal ultrasound screening, the rate of late presentation has not been reduced suggesting there are undiscovered factors responsible for dysplasia in this group of patients,” Associate Professor Donnan said.

“Our aim is to uncover the causes, refine the treatment, and improve the outcomes for children and young adults who suffer from this condition.”

Along with support from The Royal Children’s Hospital (RCH) Department of Orthopaedics, the grant will allow Associate Professor Donnan to establish a Victoria hip dysplasia clinical registry (VicHip) with prospective data from multiple clinical sites and intended to be linked to both GenV and the International Hip Dysplasia Registry.

VicHip will be a registry of all Victorian children who present with hip dysplasia and builds on an existing registry that now has over 1000 infants who have been recruited at RCH. Associate Professor Donnan and his team currently collect data about the presentation, clinical signs, diagnostic features, treatment and complications, and follow the children to adulthood.

“Our low-cost registry will enable many individuals to avoid a lifetime of invasive surgeries, pain and disability, and others to avoid unnecessary care and inconvenience, while better-targeted investigation and care will reduce costs to society,” he said.

“With intentions to partner with GenV, this further offers an opportunity for discovery available to no other hip registry worldwide before.”

Associate Professor Donnan said VicHip was not just a research tool but also a way to unify patients, families, and clinicians in pursuit of a common goal to ensure all Victorians have access to good hip care and improve the outcome from hip dysplasia at every age

*This story is solely the responsibility of the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute and does not reflect the views of the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC).

More information


Medical Research Futures Fund Grant Application 2015989.