Slipped capital femoral epiphysis (SCFE) is a bone problem that affects the hip joint. The hip joint is a ball and socket joint. The socket is part of the hip bone. The ball part of the joint is the top end of the thighbone. Just below the ball part is an area where new bone grows. This is called a growth plate or epiphysis. When a child has SCFE, the ball slips off the growth plate.
This problem may happen in one or both hips. It is common in teens and more common in boys than in girls. It’s also more common in children who are very overweight.
If SCFE is not treated, the end of the thighbone may be destroyed by a lack of blood flow or your child may permanently lose full movement of the hip joint.
The thighbone grows from an area called a growth plate, just below the ball of the thighbone. Weakness in the growth plate causes the ball to slowly slip off the growth plate. The exact cause of the weakness in the growth plate is not known. It usually happens when your child’s bones are growing quickly during the early teens. A fall or an accident may cause the ball to slip suddenly.
Symptoms may include:
Your healthcare provider will ask about your child's symptoms and medical history and examine your child. Your healthcare provider will watch your child walk and move the hip. The provider will check to see if:
Tests may include:
It is important to diagnose and treat SCFE early. Usually it is treated with surgery. There are different ways the surgery may be done. Screws may be used to hold the bones in place as your child grows, or part of the growth plate may be removed.
After surgery your child will need to use crutches for many weeks. Your child will have regular checkups for the next year or two. Your child’s healthcare provider will take X-rays to watch the growth plate. Your child may need to limit some sports and other activities until he is done growing.
Follow the instructions your healthcare provider gives you.
To help treat this condition:
Ask your healthcare provider:
Make sure you know when your child should come back for a checkup.
In many cases SCFE cannot be prevented. However, many children with SCFE are also overweight. The extra weight puts more stress on the growth plate in the thighbone at the hip. Losing weight may help relieve some of the pressure and help prevent SCFE.