Annie Boyd is a very thoughtful, active, artsy 3 year old.
Annie was Carrie and Andrew Boyd’s first child. As with any new parent, they weren’t sure what a normal crawler was supposed to look like. They were just enjoying each milestone. The Boyds took Annie to the pediatrician for her 9-month check-up, and as the pediatrician manipulated her hips, he realized there was an issue. The Boyds immediately knew something was up.
Dr. Horton, Annie’s pediatrician, sent Annie immediately for an ultrasound. Dr. Horton called Andrew, Annie’s dad, 4 days later to let them know it was Hip Dysplasia (a hip socket that does not fully cover the ball portion of the upper thigh bone. This allows the hip joint to become partially or completely dislocated.) As any parent would be, Andrew was emotional and shocked as he went home to tell his wife that their Annie would need surgery.
The Boyds met with TOC’s Dr. Michael Lawley, who confirmed that Annie had Hip Dysplasia. He was very informative and confident, and gave two approaches to surgery—one less aggressive approach and one that was more invasive. The Boyds left feeling comforted and knew they were in great hands. Elizabeth, Dr. Lawley’s nurse practitioner, was empathetic and related to the Boyds, as she has a small child as well.
At 11 months old, Annie had her first surgery. After discussing the pros and cons to different treatment plans, Dr. Lawley’s team and the Boyds decided to try the most conservative approach initially. Dr. Lawley explains the procedure: “We took Annie to the operating room and once she was asleep, I did a closed reduction technique where I use x-ray guidance, along with my hands to put the hip back in the socket. While she was asleep, I also made small incisions to release the tendons in the groin area that tend to hold the hips inward. This was done to give the closed reduction a better chance of working as well. We then placed her into a spica cast to hold the hip in place.” She was in a cast from her ankles to her armpits. Annie came home and recovered well. She could pull herself up—she found a way; mentally and physically, she was very strong. The Boyds worked hard as a team between changing diapers, bath time, and all the other tasks required to care for their recovering toddler.
Everything seemed to be going just fine until three weeks later, when the Boyds took Annie to have her casting changed, and they found out the first surgery didn’t take. The x-ray showed Annie’s hip had slipped out of place. Although the Boyds understood this was a possibility when Annie had the surgery, they and Dr. Lawley were upset. “It was no fault of Dr. Lawley—it simply didn’t take.” Dr. Lawley and his team immediately had a plan for the next steps.
Two weeks later, Annie went back to surgery with a more aggressive approach. Dr. Lawley again explains, “When the closed reduction failed we went with the more aggressive approach, which is making an incision along the thigh and opening the hip joint to get it aligned properly. This approach allows us to visualize the entire joint so I could remove the structures blocking reduction, place the hip back in place and tighten the capsular tissue that surrounds it to hold it in place further. She was then placed back into a spica cast while she healed.” This surgery took a lot longer than the first surgery… and in the end, the surgery was successful! When Annie had her surgery, Dr. Lawley asked if he could pray before the surgery. “It was humbling and sincere. He prayed for his hands and for Annie’s body. It showed that he cared about what he does and that he cared about us.”
Elizabeth, Dr. Lawley’s nurse practitioner, was extremely calming with Annie and helped the Boyds navigate the process. Dr. Lawley came to the hospital and visited with the family. Annie was in a cast for six weeks. Dr. Lawley always took the time to explain the x-rays and walk through the progress of her surgery and recovery.
Annie’s cast was removed when she was 14 months old, and now Annie had no idea how to sit up! She had to re-learn how to sit up, and then had to wear a brace for 6 to 10 weeks. She was a very determined little girl, and her muscles became stronger and she was able to become more active. “This journey is harder on the parents then the child—Annie always found ways to cope. We let her figure it out,” said Carrie Boyd.
The Boyds went to see Dr. Lawley for follow up appointments every three months at first, then six months, and now just every year. She has officially caught up with her peers! Dr. Lawley assured Annie’s parents that she was fine to participate in sports and physical activities. And he was right: she loves dance, ballet, and soccer. It is wonderful to see Annie catch up to her peers and be able to participate in all the activities she wants to.
“You are in good hands with Dr. Lawley. He is so smart, he talks to you in layman terms, and explains things super well. He is very confident and has an amazing bedside manner—something you don’t always get with specialists.”
The Boyds hope that others will see there is light at the end of the tunnel with this journey of hip dysplasia. On days that you wonder, will your child walk again, will he/she play again – they will. “Dr. Lawley and Elizabeth escorted us through each of these chapters. They encouraged us to trust the process. There is a reason Dr. Lawley and Elizabeth are confident—they have done the hard work of school and lots of surgeries. We feel so fortunate that we have access to the best in Huntsville… you don’t have to go far to have this care. They are intelligent and caring.”
Dr. Michael Lawley specializes in pediatric orthopaedics. His interests and areas of expertise include sports injuries, fractures, growth plate injuries, scoliosis, cerebral palsy, spina bifida, clubfoot deformity, hip dysplasia, and limb length discrepancy.