Ortolani Test

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 Ortolani Test

What is Ortolani Test?

Ortolani Test is used in Developmental dysplasia of the hip in newborn. It is performed to determine whether the hip is dislocatable (i.e., whether the femoral head can be pushed out of the acetabulum on examination).

It was first described by Marino Ortolani (1904- 1983) an Italian pediatrician who developed it in 1937.

See Also: Developmental dysplasia of the hip DDH

How do you perform the Ortolani test?

When pressure on the leg is released, the femoral head will dislocate again. If the hip is dislocated, physical findings may include limited abduction (normal abduction is approximately 90 degrees), asymmetric thigh folds (excess on the affected side), and shortening of the leg compared with the opposite side.

What does a positive Ortolani Test mean?

The examination detects instability of the hip and also allows one to define the degree of instability present. Tönnis differentiates four grades of instability:

  1. Slightly unstable hip without a snap.
  2. Dislocatable hip: The hip can be fully or largely reduced by abduction alone (with a snap).
  3. Hip that can be dislocated and reduced.
  4. Dislocated hip that cannot be reduced. The acetabulum is empty, and the femoral head can be palpated posteriorly; abduction is severely limited and reduction is not possible.

Sensitivity & Specificity

A study by AR Sulaiman 1 found that the incidence of positive Barlow and Ortolani tests among breech babies was 2.8%, the sensitivity & specificity of these two tests were as following:

Telescope Sign

Telescope Sign is another test for congenital hip dislocation.

The examiner grasps the affected leg with one hand and passively flexes the hip and knee. The other hand rests posterolateral to the hip. The examiner palpates the greater trochanter with the thumb of this hand and the motion of the femoral head with the index finger. The hand guiding the leg alternately applies axial compression and traction to the femur.

In a hip dislocation, the leg will appear to shorten or lengthen. The palpating hand follows the motion of the greater trochanter and fem oral head into the dislocated position and back to reduction.

(a) Apparent leg “shortening” on axial compression. (b) Apparent leg “lengthening” on axial traction.


The clinical presentation of congenital dysplasia of the hip varies according to the age of the child:

  1. In newborns (<6 months old), it is especially important to perform a careful clinical examination because radiographs are not always reliable in making the diagnosis of congenital dysplasia of the hip in this age group. The use of ultrasound screening of newborns is preferred for early diagnosis of congenital dysplasia of the hip.
  2. As the child reaches age 6 to 18 months, several factors in the clinical presentation change. When the femoral head is dislocated, and the ability to reduce it by abduction has disappeared, several other clinical signs become obvious. The radiographs x-ray is preferred for this age group.


  1. AR Sulaiman, Zakaria Yusof, I Munajat, NAA Lee, Nik Zaki. Developmental Dysplasia of Hip Screening Using Ortolani and Barlow Testing on Breech Delivered Neonates. Malays Orthop J. 2011 Nov; 5(3): 13–16. PMID: 25279029.
  2. Campbel’s Operative Orthopaedics 13th edition book.
  3. Clinical Tests for the Musculoskeletal System 3rd Edition.
  4. Tachdjian Pediatric Orthopaedics 5th Edition book.

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