Between 1989 and 1992 we admitted 426 children with an irritable hip, 363 (85.2%) once and 63 (14.8%) on 143 occasions. We assessed the records retrospectively to determine whether the groups differed and in particular whether recurrence was followed by pathological sequelae. We identified no feature which distinguished between them at either presentation. The use of bone isotope scans was greatly increased in recurrent cases, without clinical benefit. No relationship between recurrence and subsequent abnormality was identified, with 22 (42%) of the recurrences taking place in the opposite hip. The only difference was a higher incidence of 'psychosocial factors' recorded in the notes of children who presented on more than two occasions. The incidence of recurrent irritable hip is larger than previously indicated and in the presence of normal radiographs and low-grade clinical signs, more detailed investigation on subsequent admission is unlikely to be helpful.
- © 1995 British Editorial Society of Bone and Joint Surgery