Overview of Dysplasia

Dysplasia is a condition of abnormal cell growth in tissues or organs. Dysplasia cannot always be identified as a cancerous condition, however, the probability of precancerous cell development increases with dysplasia. In most cases, dysplasia leads to enlarged organs such as hip dysplasia. 



The prevalence of dysplasia in Pakistan is not accurately recorded however there has been reported data on hip dysplasia in children and skeletal dysplasia in the Pakistani population. The percentage of dysplasia complications in Pakistan is lower than in the rest of the world; most of these cases have been reported at the time of birth. 

Signs and Symptoms of Dysplasia

Dysplasia may affect different areas and parts of the body depending upon which type of dysplasia is progressive. Although identifying dysplasia early can lead to faster diagnosis and treatment, getting it right can be more challenging. Some visible symptoms of dysplasia can be; 

  • Cervical dysplasia - genital warts are usually the first emerging symptoms of developing cervical dysplasia. Usually, genital warts are associated with HPV, but cervical dysplasia can be much better diagnosed during a pap smear test.

  • Hip dysplasia - a common symptom in this type is consistent pain in the hip region. A similar ache in the groin area can also be an indication of ongoing hip dysplasia. 

  • Ectodermal dysplasia - the first physical symptoms of ectodermal dysplasia are signs of discolored nails, brittle teeth or hair, and clay skin. In some cases, this type of condition is more visible on the nail region and the skin around it. 

Types of Dysplasia

Dysplasia is a broad category that has many types affecting both adults and children. Some of the most prominent types of dysplasia are; 

Hip Dysplasia 

Hip dysplasia is a congenital condition that is often reported at the time of birth. Hip dysplasia is when either the hip joint is placed in the wrong place or the hip socket is not correctly placed to support the structure and bone of the leg. 

According to AAOS (American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons), this may become evident based on; 

  • Different lengths of both legs 
  • Loose or less flexibility on one side 
  • A different way of walking 

If the dislocation is mild, it may not be evident in the infant stage. As the child grows into the toddler stage, that is when the diagnosis will be fully made. In some cases, people who are diagnosed with hip dyslexia as adults have had the condition since childhood. 

The treatment options for hip dysplasia include the use of a harness or hip surgery. If the condition is identified at a young age, then the infant has to wear a soft harness till 3 months of age to keep the hip in place. This usually is the most common treatment that fixes the hip treatment in time. 

Body Casts are another option, that takes up to 2 years to reposition the thigh bone. Only occasionally a serious case will require surgery for the bone to be put back in the socket. 

Skeletal Dysplasia 

One of the main reasons why people have short structures is skeletal dysplasia. The main cause behind skeletal dysplasia is due to genetic mutation which usually happens before birth or in early infancy. 

Bone abnormalities and growth deficiency are other problems that arise due to skeletal dysplasia. 

 Ectodermal Dysplasia 

A person suffering from ectodermal dysplasia will affect the nail, hair, skin, and sweat glands of the person. There are more than 100 different types of ectodermal dysplasia (source: National Foundation of Ectodermal Dysplasias (NEFD)

This condition is mainly hereditary and is passed on from parents to children. 

Abnormal Growth Dysplasia 

Dysplasia refers to the abnormal growth of cells or tissues that may become a future precursor for cancer development. Dysplasia does not always translate to cancer development, however, early prevention diagnosis, and treatment should be done immediately. Some common abnormal dysplasia conditions include; 

Cervical Dysplasia 

In cervical dysplasia, abnormal cell growth occurs on the surface of the cervix. Resulting in two types of cervical dysplasia; 

  • Low-grade cervical dysplasia - in this condition, the growth progresses slowly but gets better on its own 
  • High-grade cervical dysplasia - the cell growth is more aggressive with a high probability of developing into cancer 

Myelodysplastic Syndromes

Myelodysplastic syndrome specifically affects abnormal bone marrow cell growth that may lead to the development of leukemia. Although abnormal cell growth can be due to mutation, it can also mean that the bone marrow has not been producing enough healthy cells, to begin with. Such a condition becomes more viable when a person is regularly put through regular screening. 

Causes of Dysplasia

The exact cause of the occurrence of dysplasia remains unknown. Although studies have been done previously to understand the cause of dysplasia, however only a few contributing factors have come forward such as; 

  • Sudden mutation
  • Any external Infections 
  • Smoking 
  • Exposure to carcinogenic toxins

In most cases, dysplasia starts from sudden mutation. An individual's chances of having dysplasia also increase if they have anyone in their family with dysplasia. 


Risk Factors of Dysplasia

Dysplasia in later life can progress and damage the bone structure, joint region, and muscle development. Dysplasia is more likely to develop into osteoarthritis because of higher pressure on the joint region.



Prevention of dysplasia depends upon its type. Some of the onset conditions of dysplasia have genetic causes and unfold due to a sudden genetic mutation. There is little to no evidence to fully support any certain lifestyle changes that may affect the progression of dysplasia. However, some preventive measures are encouraged to avoid a certain type of dysplasia; 

  • Being mindful of any chemical exposure or radiation
  • Avoiding smoking and alcohol at all costs 
  • Getting regular checkups to detect any STI
  • Using correct preventive methods like strong birth control in case someone has multiple sexual partners 
  • Getting an HPV vaccine 


Treatment of Dysplasia | When to Consult a Doctor

Dysplasia treatment depends on the type of dysplasia diagnosed. There are multiple procedures and medications available today that can successfully manage dysplasia. Based on the kind of dysplasia, here are some of the following treatment options to consider; 

Skeletal Dysplasia 

  • Growth hormones 
  • The physical intervention of braces to align the  bone structure 
  • Surgical intervention 

Ectodermal Dysplasia 

  • Practicing dental hygiene 
  • Topical creams for a skin condition 
  • Antibacterial topical application 
  • Using saline treatments 

Cervical Dysplasia 

  • Laser surgery to remove abnormal cells 
  • Cryocauterization (using very cold temperatures to destroy abnormal cells)
  • Loop electrosurgical excision procedure (LEEP) - scraping the abnormal cell growth skin


For MDs, stem cell transplants and blood transfusions are primarily used for blood cell growth factors. 

In case of any discomfort or abnormal symptoms, it's best to immediately consult with your primary care physician