Early Detection of Hip Dysplasia with PennHIP Radiographs

Key Points

PennHip is a noninvasive simple test that can be used to screen dogs as young as 4 months of age for hip looseness, which may lead to hip dysplasia

PennHip is a great tool to identify young dogs that should have the Juvenile Pubic Symphysiodesis surgery to prevent hip dysplasia

PennHip is a great tool to assist in the elimination of hip dysplasia from a breeding group

PennHip radiographs can only be done by someone who is PennHip-certified


What is PennHIP?

  • It is a special technique of positioning the hips so that the looseness of the hips can be evaluated
  • Loose hips have a very high risk for development of hip arthritis, which could cause severe debilitation


Reasons to have your dog evaluated using the PennHIP technique

  • To eliminate the potential of hip dysplasia from your breeding stock
  • To try to predict the potential risk of your dog developing hip dysplasia so that a preventative procedure called the JPS or juvenile pubic symphysiodesis can be preformed

What is OFA?

  • OFA is the standard method of x-raying hips for hip certification which has been used for a number of decades
  • This test is used to certify hips for breeding purposes
  • OFA hip radiograph certification cannot be done until a dog is 24 months of age
  • The OFA radiographs of the hips are taken as shown below; below right the dog is positioned on its back with the hind limbs extended; the resultant radiographs are below left
  • The radiologist will give an estimation of the looseness of the hips and the amount of arthritis present, then give a subjective score of the hips


What is the advantage of using the PennHIP technique over OFA?

  • The PennHIP can be done as early as 4 months of age
  • A more objective estimation of hip looseness is made with the PennHIP technique versus OFA
  • The PennHIP can eliminate the hip dysplasia genes out of breeding stock at a much quicker rate than OFA
  • The PennHIP technique can be used to test to see if your pet is a candidate for a surgery to prevent debilitating dysplasia and arthritis of the hips


How is the PennHIP performed?

  •  Your pet will be sedated during the procedure to help with positioning
  • Five radiographs of the hips will be made
    • one hip extended view as shown above
    • one compression radiograph as shown below; this view shows the maximal amount that the ball of the hip will seat into the hip socket; below left shows two water jugs placed on the sides of the hips and the thighs being spread apart slightly


  • three distraction radiographs are made using the patented hip distractor; three radiographs are made to ensure that a consistent amount of laxity of the hips is measured; in the photo below left the distractor has been placed between the thighs; a small amount of pressure is applied so that knees come together slightly (called adduction); the resultant radiograph is seen below right



Interpretation of PennHIP results

  • When the results come back from the radiologist, the distractive index or DI is reported
  • The DI will indicate the degree of looseness of the hips
  • The DI  of your dog will be ranked on a bell curve relative to other dogs within the breed group
  • The report will not give a score of excellent, good, fair etc, such as is reported by the OFA
  • Some interpretation of the results and recommendation for breeding will be made by us at your request


Potential complications of the PennHIP

  • Death from the sedative medications is extremely rare, but possible
  • Slightly discomfort of the thighs may be experienced by some dogs for about 24 hours; Aspirin 325 mg tablet  – 1 tablet per 60 pounds of body weight can be administered twice daily if needed

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