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Slipped capital femoral epiphysis

  • Definition
    • A slipped capital femoral epiphysis is a separation of the ball of the hip joint from the thigh bone (femur) at the upper growing end (growth plate) of the bone.

  • Alternative Names
    • Femoral epiphysis - slipped

  • Causes
    • A slipped capital femoral epiphysis may affect both hips.

      An epiphysis is an area at the end of a long bone. It is separated from the main part of the bone by the growth plate. In this condition, the problem occurs in the upper area while the bone is still growing.

      Slipped capital femoral epiphysis occurs in about 2 out of every 100,000 children. It is more common in:

      • Growing children ages 11 to 15, especially boys
      • Children who are obese
      • Children who are growing rapidly

      Children with hormone imbalances caused by other conditions are at higher risk for this disorder.

  • Symptoms
  • Exams and Tests
    • The health care provider will examine you. A hip or pelvis x-ray can confirm this condition.

  • Treatment
    • Surgery to stabilize the bone with pins or screws will prevent the ball of the hip joint from slipping or moving out of place. Some surgeons may suggest using pins on the other hip at the same time. This is because many children will develop this problem in that hip later.

  • Outlook (Prognosis)
    • The outcome is most often good with treatment. In rare cases, the hip joint may wear away, despite prompt diagnosis and treatment.

  • Possible Complications
    • This disorder is linked to a greater risk of osteoarthritis later in life. Other potential but rare complications include reduced blood flow to the hip joint and wearing away of hip joint tissue.

  • When to Contact a Medical Professional
    • If your child has ongoing pain or other symptoms of this disorder, have the child lie down right away and stay still until you get medical help.

  • Prevention
    • Weight control for obese children may be helpful. Many cases are not preventable.

  • References
    • Sankar WN, Horn BD, Wells L, Dormans JP. Slipped Capital Femoral Ephiphysis. In: Kliegman RM, Behrman RE, Jenson HB, Stanton BF, eds. Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics. 19th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2011:chap 670.4.