Hip dislocation


Hip anatomy.
  • Orthopedic emergency
    • Reduction of native hip should occur within 6hr due to high risk of avascular necrosis
    • Hip prosthetic dislocation is more common and less emergent
  • High-energy trauma is primary mechanism for native hip dislocation
    • Dashboard impact, fall from height, sports injury
  • Low-energy trauma can cause hip prosthetic dislocation
    • Tying shoes, sitting on toilet or low seat


  • Posterior
    • 90% of hip dislocations
    • Often associated with acetabular fracture
  • Anterior
    • 10% of hip dislocations[1]
    • Can be superior (pelvic) or inferior (obturator)
    • Neurovascular compromise is unusual

Clinical Features

Posterior Dislocation

  • Extremity is shortened, internally rotated, adducted
  • Neurovascular exam may review sciatic nerve compromise

Anterior Dislocation

  • Extremity is extended (superior) or flexed (inferior), externally rotated, abducted[2]

Differential Diagnosis

Hip pain

Acute Trauma




Post-surgical hip dislocation
  • Hip AP and lateral views
    • Posterior Dislocation: AP view femoral head posterior and superior to acetabulum
    • Anterior Dislocation: AP view shows femoral head in obturator foramen (inferior to acetabulum)
    • If associated femoral neck fracture, will likely need orthopedics
  • Consider Judet views
  • Consider knee xray
  • Consider CT to evaluate acetabulum for subtle fractures (esp for posterior dislocation)


  • Diagnosed typically via radiograph (see above)


  • Reduction recommended within 6 hours to prevent avascular necrosis of the femoral head[3]
  • Femoral neck fracture is a contraindication to closed reduction
  • Procedural sedation


Allis Maneuver

Allis maneuver.
  • Supine patient on table: deeper sedation (propofol helps with tissue relaxation); firm distal traction at flexed knee to pull head back into acetabulum; assistant stabilizes pelvis by pushing on ASISs

Captain Morgan Hip Reduction[4]

  • See figure here
  • See video here
  • Provider's knee behind supine patients flexed knee with anterior force lifting (via provider plantar flexing foot) and rotation as needed
  • Successful in patients with prosthetic hips as well
  • Poses less risk of knee injury since most force is applied by lifting leg rather than applying leverage at knee
  • Less risk to provider who does not have to stand on top of gurney, and requires only one provider

The Waddell Technique[5]

The Waddell technique
  • A modified Allis Maneuver that allows the provider to follow back safety recommendations provided by OSHA
  • Provider hovers over patient on the bed and places their forearm under the patient's knee
  • The provider squats down, draping their forearm over their knees with the elbow on one knee and wrist/hand over the other knee
  • Provider then leans back, pivoting on feet and holding the patient's leg close to their chest, while an assistant stabilizes the pelvis


  • Reduction: traction, internal rotation, and then external rotation once the femoral hip clears the acetabular rim


  • If reduced, outpatient with ortho follow up

Post Reduction Care

  • Maintain dislocation precautions:
    • Do not bend the operated hip past 90 degrees
      • Zimmer splint or other knee immobilizer can help with this as most individuals cannot flex hip without flexing knee
    • Do not cross the midline of the body with operated leg (use hip abduction pillow)
    • Do not rotate the operated leg inward
    • In bed, toes and knee cap should point toward ceiling
  • Toe-touch or feather weight-bearing


  • Post-traumatic arthritis
    • 20% in simple dislocations
    • Common in complex dislocations
  • Femoral head osteonecrosis
    • 5-40%
    • Delay in reduction >6 hours increases risk
  • Sciatic nerve injury (check EHL function - toe extension)
    • 8-20% incidence
    • Delay in reduction increases risk
  • Recurrent dislocations: <2%

External Links


  1. Holt GE and McCarty EC. Anterior hip dislocation with an associated vascular injury requiring amputation. J Trauma. 2003; 55(1):135-138.
  2. Alonso JE, et al. A review of the treatment of hip dislocations associated with acetabular fractures. Clin Orthop Relat Res. 2000; 377(8):32-43.
  3. Jaskulka RA, et al. Dislocation and fracture-dislocation of the hip. J Bone Joint Surg Br. 1991; 73(3):465-469.
  4. Hendey GW and Avila AA. The Captain Morgan Technique for the Reduction of the Dislocated Hip. Annals of Emergency Medicine, Volume 60, Issue 1, July 2012, Pages 135-136.
  5. Waddell BS, Mohamed S, Glomset JT, Meyer MS. A Detailed Review of Hip Reduction Maneuvers: A Focus on Physician Safety and Introduction of the Waddell Technique. Orthop Rev (Pavia). 2016;8(1):6253.