Slipped capital femoral epiphysis (SCFE) happens when the ball in the hip joint at the end of the thigh bone slips backwards and partly off the bone. It happens in the pre-teen or teen years. Stable SCFE starts slowly and gets worse over time. Unstable SCFE is severe and can be sudden.
Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.
SCFE is caused by pressure on an area of cartilage that allows the bone to grow, known as the growth plate.
SCFE is more common in boys and children who are aged 8 to 16 years. Other things that raise the risk are:
Symptoms of stable SCFE may be:
Symptoms of unstable SCFE may be:
You will be asked about your child's symptoms and health history. An exam will be done that focuses on the hip joint and how it moves. This can be enough to make the diagnosis.
Images of the hip joint will be taken to confirm the diagnosis. This can be done with x-rays.
A wheelchair or crutches will be used to keep weight off of the hip joint. More treatment will be given by a doctor who treats bones.
The goal of treatment is to stabilize the joint and prevent any further slipping. This is always done with surgery. The surgery that is done depends on whether the SCFE is stable or unstable:
There are no methods to prevent SCFE.
Kids Health—Nemours Foundation
Ortho Info—American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons
Caring for Kids—Canadian Paediatric Society
When it Hurts to Move—Canadian Orthopaedic Foundation
Georgiadis AG, Zaltz I. Slipped capital femoral epiphysis: how to evaluate with a review and update of treatment. Pediatr Clin North Am. 2014 Dec;61(6):1119-1135.
Slipped capital femoral epiphysis. Ortho Info—American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons website. Available at: http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=A00052. Updated June 2016. Accessed September 30, 2019.
Slipped capital femoral epiphysis (SCFE). EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at:https://www.dynamed.com/condition/slipped-capital-femoral-epiphysis-scfe. Updated July 27, 2017. Accessed September 30, 2019.
Slipped capital femoral epiphysis (SCFE). Kids Health—Nemours Foundation website. Available at: http://kidshealth.org/en/parents/scfe.html. Updated September 2016. Accessed September 30, 2019.
Slipped capital femoral epiphysis (SCFE). Merck Manual Professional Version website. Available at: https://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/pediatrics/bone-disorders-in-children/slipped-capital-femoral-epiphysis-scfe. Updated March 2019. Accessed September 30, 2019.
Last reviewed September 2019 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Warren A. Bodine, DO, CAQSM Last Updated: 4/24/2020