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Hip Dislocation Guide

Maryann Gromisch RN Guide

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What is Slipped Capital Femoral Epiphysis, and Could My Child Be at Risk?

By Ann Butenas
 
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It is a long phrase for an unusual disorder: Slipped capital femoral epiphysis (SCFE). This refers to a disorder, while not usual, is not rare, either.

For reasons the medical community does not fully understand, this occurs when the ball at the upper end of the thigh bone slips off into a backward direction. A weakness in the growth plate can be attributed to this condition. In many cases, it presents during the beginning of puberty when accelerated periods of growth occur.

SCFE is more common in males than in females, occurring two to three times more frequently. A large percentage of the patients have excess weight in comparison to their height. The slipping of the epiphysis is a gradual process in most cases. Nonetheless, it can come on suddenly as a result of some sort of trauma or a fall. When treated well in the early stages, SCFE that is symptomatic in nature can see positive long-term functioning of the hip.

The symptoms most associated with SCFE include weeks or months of hip or knee pain, perhaps accompanied by an occasional limp. The adolescent may even be unable to bear any weight on the leg that is affected. This leg may be turned outward as compared to the other leg. Further, this leg may look somewhat shorter than the other one.

To provide for a complete and accurate diagnosis, a physical examination is necessary. A thorough history of the patient is obtained and his/her walking pattern will be observed. Further, x-rays of the hip will be performed, and the results of these x-rays should detail that “the upper end of the thigh bone does not line up with the portion called the femoral neck,” as noted in the web site “Your Orthopaedic Connection.”

Many times, complete hip movement is lost and it is difficult for the patient to rotate his/her hip forward. The increased inflammation in that area may also cause pain with extreme movement and perhaps even contribute to muscle spasms.

The treatment of SCFE does require surgical intervention. This is done to prevent any further slipping of the femoral head until the growth plate closes.

Add a Comment1 Comments

Pat Elliott

Hi Ann - Thanks for making us aware of this unusual disorder. Could you please give us an idea of how frequently slipped capital femoral epiphysis (SCFE) occurs?
Many thanks,
Pat

November 5, 2009 - 5:41pm
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