The activities of the Pediatric Orthopedics Department, headed by Professor Nicola Portinaro, encompass diagnostics and treatment of all orthopedic diseases, both primary and secondary, in patients aged 0-18 years of age. Throughout the diagnostic-therapeutic path, the patient is followed by a team consisting of dedicated professionals – an orthopaedic surgeon, a physiotherapist, a rehabilitation therapist, an anaesthetist and a pain therapist, all with a targeted paediatric specialisation – which enables the team to provide comprehensive clinical management to the patient. The spaces and diagnostic-therapeutic pathway have been designed to provide the greatest comfort to patients. Notably, the team relies on dedicated outpatient visit rooms, fast-track diagnostic pathways, as well as on post-operative rehabilitation activities taking place in the same ward, Humanitas being the only hospital in Italy to offer the latter. What is more, the Humanitas team allows a parent to stay with the young patient 24 hours a day. The Department’s surgeons have accumulated considerable experience, performing over 600 operations each year.

The team visits patients in the outpatient setting as well, focusing on complex deformities of both lower and upper limbs (varus-valgus deformities, problems of rotational deformity and congenital failure to form muscolo-skeletal segments), diagnosis of various orthopaedic problems associated with genetic syndromes, pathologies affecting children’s feet (flat, hollow and clubfeet), as well as congenital malformations of the large joints, such as the hip and knee.

The team also performs hip ultrasounds for newborns, which allow to diagnose possible pathologies noninvasively and to organize immediate treatment (conservative or surgical) and follow-up.

The Department is also the national reference center for the study and treatment of orthopedic conditions arising from neuromuscular disorders, with a particular focus on cerebral palsy, spina bifida, and muscular dystrophies.

The team works independently and collaborates with Italian and international teaching hospitals to produce basic and clinical research. The team is currently involved in numerous polycentric studies, for instance, one with the Institute of normal human morphology of the University of Milan and the Polytechnic University of Milan, looking at genetic alterations of the tendons and their impact on motor skills (studied with computerized gait analysis), in order to identify and develop new therapeutic solutions for children with orthopedic problems, such as those with infantile neuromotor disabilities, especially infantile cerebral palsy.

The team is involved in the study of modifications to the genetic, metabolic and mechanical properties of tendons induced by the spasticity associated with neuromuscular diseases, to understand the mechanisms linked to these conditions. This research has allowed the team to develop new protocols of care that rely on minimally-invasive techniques and immediate post-operative rehabilitation, demonstrating promising results.

Teaching constitutes an integral part in the Department’s activities, with the specialists sharing their knowledge within Pediatric Orthopaedics and Infant Neuro-Motor Diseases courses.