Slipped Capital Femoral Epiphysis (SCFE)
Slipped capital femoral epiphysis (SCFE) is an unusual disorder of the hip where the ball at the upper end of the thighbone (femur) slips in a backward direction. This is caused due to weakness of the growth plate and usually occurs during accelerated growth periods such as the onset of puberty.
Causes of SCFE
The cause of SCFE is unknown. However, in most cases it may be due to being overweight or from minor falls or trauma. Slippage of the epiphysis (ball at the upper end of the thighbone) is a gradual and slow process, however, it may occur suddenly in cases of trauma or falls.
Symptoms of SCFE
The typical symptoms of SCFE include several weeks or months of hip or knee pain and limping. The affected leg may be turned outwards in comparison to the normal leg and may appear shorter.
SCFE is usually diagnosed with a physical examination during which your doctor will evaluate motion of the hip, gait and walking pattern. An X-ray of the hip shows any anatomical differences in the alignment of the hip bone and is used to confirm the diagnosis.
Early diagnosis and treatment of SCFE helps achieve better hip stability. The treatment is mostly in the form of surgery to prevent any additional slipping of the femoral head until growth stops. Depending on the severity of the condition, your doctor will recommend one of these three surgical procedures:
- Placing a single screw in the thighbone and the epiphysis
- Reducing the displacement of the femoral head and placing screws to hold it in place
- Removing the abnormal growth plate and avoiding any further displacement with the help of screws