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Plymouth Paediatric Orthopaedics

Slipped Capital Femoral Epiphysis

A slipped capital femoral epiphysis occurs when the ball of the ball and socket shaped hip joint “slips” off the shaft of the femur (thigh bone). It occurs through the area that children grow from – the physis, which is an area of potential weakness.

It most commonly happens around puberty and is more frequent in overweight boys.

The concern with SCFE is that the blood supply to the growing part of the hip may be lost (avascular necrosis), causing it to collapse. If severe, the hip may not remain ball shaped and lead to early onset arthritis.

Children typically present with hip, groin, thigh or knee pain or may be noticed to walk with a limp.

Treatment involves an operation to fix the femoral head (ball) back onto the femoral neck (shaft) with one or more screws. Depending on when the slip occurred, this may be done in the position it rests in, or an attempt may be made to restore its original position. The operation itself has the potential, albeit small to further interrupt the blood supply.

Your surgeon will also discuss with you the risks and benefits of prophylactically fixing the unaffected side, as it may also be at risk of SCFE.