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Starship Paediatric Orthopaedics

Public Service, Paediatrics, Orthopaedics


What is Paediatric (Children's) Orthopaedics?
Orthopaedics covers the diagnosis and treatment of disorders of bones, joints and muscles. Orthopaedic surgeons have special skills in the surgical treatment of these conditions. The medical treatment is often shared by orthopaedic surgeons, rheumatologists, sports doctors and GPs. If the patient is over the age of 15 years you should click here.
Some of the most common children's conditions treated by orthopaedic surgeons are:
  • fractured bones
  • torn or inflamed muscles, tendons and cartilage
  • infections in bones or joints
  • pain in a joint or bone
  • disorders of the formation of joints e.g hip dysplasia
  • disorders of the growth of bones e.g skeletal dysplasias
  • clubfoot or other foot differences
  • curvature of the spine and other spinal deformities.

Some babies are born in a way that makes their risk of having abnormal hips a little greater. These babies should be assessed by your GP who will refer some of these babies for an ultrasound or x-ray. Some will need to be checked by an orthopaedic surgeon.

Fractures, except for the most minor ones, are treated by orthopaedic surgeons as they have the expertise to assess the damage around the fracture and ensure the best function is obtained after the fracture is mended. Because most children are very active they fracture bones and injure muscles and tendons. Minor fractures in small children are often  "buckle  fractures" and some of these can be treated by your A+ E clinic or by some GPs and they do not need to come to Starship.

Most spinal conditions (especially minor curves in the spine) do not need a surgical operation. A small number of serious spinal conditions do need surgery. Your GP will tell you if your child's condition is one that could benefit from an orthopaedic surgical opinion.

Some children develop disorders in which their walking (gait) looks abnormal. You should ask your GP if your child's gait is normal. Some cases of abnormal gait need to be assessed by an orthopaedic surgeon but most do not. Your GP is the best person to advise on your child. Some common conditions affecting gait are described below.

Some children develop "knock knees" and others get "bow legs". Some get "intoeing". Most of these cases do not need to be seen by an orthopaedic surgeon. There are more detailed descriptions of these conditions below.

If you are worried about your child, see your family doctor. GPs are the best people to decide whether your child needs a referral to an orthopaedic surgeon.


Referral Expectations

Your child must be assessed by your GP before they can be referred to the Children's Orthopaedic Department at the Auckland Hospital (Starship site).  

As there is only a certain amount of money and a limited number of specialists working at the hospital, it is not possible for the Orthopaedic Department to see every patient who is referred, but the important and serious conditions will always be seen. 

If the referral is accepted, an appointment time will be sent directly to you. If you do receive an appointment, please turn up on the day because, if you do not turn up, you will deprive another patient of this valuable appointment.

For urgent conditions e.g. serious infections, your child will be seen right away. For other conditions there are two options:

1.  The referral letter will be returned to the GP and they will be asked to manage the condition based on expert advice given to him/her from a Starship doctor.

2.  An appointment will be sent to you with advice that there will be a waiting time before your child can be seen.

If you receive an appointment you will need to go to Outpatients on Level 3 of Starship Children's Hospital where your child will be assessed by specialised doctors. This usually takes several hours and may involve additional tests.

Recommendations and options regarding your child's future treatment plan will be discussed with you.
You need to bring to the appointment:

  1. Any letters or reports from your doctor or another hospital.
  2. Any hard copy X-Rays, CT or MRI films and reports.
  3. Information about the medicines that your child is currently taking including herbal and natural remedies.
  4. Your child's pharmaceutical entitlement card.


There are no charges for New Zealand citizens or those with permanent New Zealand residency when they are treated in the public hospital. All non-residents and visitors to New Zealand will be billed for the full cost of the consultations and treatment.

The only exception to this is for the treatment of accidents where the cost of treatment can be paid for by the Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC).


OUTPATIENT CLINICS You must have a referral from your GP and you have to have been allocated an appointment before you can attend these clinics.

Fracture clinics: Tuesday, Thursday and Friday afternoons.

General Outpatient clinics: Monday- Friday.

Time of the clinic is dependent on the Surgeon you are seeing.

Clubfoot clinic: Wednesday mornings

Emergency cases such as injuries can be seen any time but must be referred via the Starship Emergency Department.

Common Conditions / Procedures / Treatments / Services

  • Intoeing

    Intoeing (pigeon toed) is common in children and is often considered a normal part of development.… More

  • Knock Knees (Genu Valgum)

    In the first 12 months of life, bowed legs are common.… More

  • Bow Legs (Genu Varum)

    In the first 12 to 24 months of life, bowed legs are often normal.… More

  • Fracture Clinics

    Tuesday, Thursday and Friday afternoons.
    These clinics are run in Starship for patients who have had a broken bone that has already been treated and further appointments are required to check the injury to see how it is healing.… More PDF

  • Developmental Dislocation of the Hip (Congenital Dislocation of the Hip)

    Developmental dislocation of the hip (DDH), also known as congenital hip dislocation, dislocatable hip or developmental dysplasia, refers to a range of conditions in which the head (ball) of the hip bone does not fit appropriately into the hip socket at birth.… More

  • Club foot Antenatal Consults

    Referral Recommendations for Antenatal Detection of Congenital Talipes Equino Varus (CTEV)/Clubfoot:… More

  • Arthroscopy (Keyhole Surgery)

    A large number of orthopaedic procedures on joints can now be performed using an arthroscope, where a fiber optic telescope is used to look inside the joint.… More

  • Soft Tissue (Muscles, Tendons and Ligaments)

    There are occasions where tendons will need to be lengthened to improve the muscle balance around a joint or tendons will need to be transferred to give overall better joint function.… More

  • Botulinum Toxin A Injections

    Botulinum Toxin A is a type of toxin that is injected in small quantities into spastic (stiff) muscles to help them relax, thereby allowing movements to become more controlled.… More

  • Perthes Disease

    It is important to know that most children who develop Perthes disease have been very active and are often very involved in sporting activities.… More

  • Hand Service

    Hand service:
    Dr Terri Bidwell (Orthopaedic Surgeon)
    Mr Murray Beagley (Plastic Surgeon)… More

  • Gait Analysis Service

    The Starship Clinical Gait Analysis Service is provided jointly by Starship Children’s Health, AUT University and Waitemata District Health Board.… More

Contact Details

All referrals to Starship Children's Orthopaedics must be done through your general practitioner (GP).

Level 4
Starship Children's Health
Park Road

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Street Address

Level 4
Starship Children's Health
Park Road

Postal Address

Starship Child Health
Private Bag 92 024
Auckland Mail Centre
Auckland 1142
New Zealand

This page was last updated at 12:28PM on March 14, 2022. This information is reviewed and edited by Starship Paediatric Orthopaedics.