Slipped Epiphysis

Slipped Capital Femoral Epiphysis (SCFE)

This is a rare but potentially devastating problem affecting the growing hip and affects adolescents from 10 to 16 typically. It is characterised by a separation of the growing plate of the hip leading to significant deformity if not picked up early.

Any child who has a pain in the groin, hip, thigh or knee needs to be taken seriously. A twinge that disappears rapidly can happen for many reasons and as long as it settles quickly no action is necessary but any persistence of pain in the above sites needs to be assessed, especially if it is making the child limp.

An Xray (TWO MUST be taken) of the hip to assess properly for a SCFE. If there is any doubt about the diagnosis, weight bearing must be avoided until an expert opinion is sought from a musculoskeletal radiologist or orthopaedic surgeon who is used to looking after children with SCFE.

The outcome for the mildest form of SCFE is very good with normal or very nearly normal outcomes BUT if left to get worse the outcome can be devastating and lead to long term disability. It is essential that SCFE is treated surgically and rapidly. If you have any doubt that your child may have hip pain that has not been adequately diagnosed you would do well to seek an expert opinion.