Slipped capital femoral epiphysis may present with an acute/insidious onset of pain and limp.
The disorder is typically seen in the adolescent age group.
Associated systemic disease may be present.
Obligatory external rotation on hip flexion is a key examination finding.
Recommended surgical treatment is in situ pinning; prophylactic fixation of the contralateral hip may be necessary when concomitant metabolic disease is present.
Slipped capital femoral epiphysis (SCFE) is the most common hip disorder in the adolescent age group. It occurs when weakness in the proximal femoral growth plate allows displacement of the capital femoral epiphysis.
SCFE is a misnomer; it is the metaphysis that displaces anteriorly and superiorly, leading to the slipped state. Weakness in the growth plate can be caused by a variety of factors, including stress on the growth plate due to obesity, and endocrine disorders such as panhypopituitarism, hypothyroidism, and renal osteodystrophy. A period of rapid growth in adolescence may also weaken the epiphyseal plate. Klein lines are drawn along the superior cortex of the femoral neck. Plain anteroposterior/frog-leg lateral radiographs show the Klein line not intersecting the femoral head in hips with SCFE. Valgus SCFE is defined as posterolateral slippage of the proximal femoral epiphysis on the metaphysis.
History and exam
Key diagnostic factors
- presence of risk factors
- weight (>90th percentile)
- gait with affected leg externally rotated
Other diagnostic factors
- groin or knee pain
- bilateral hip pain
- Trendelenburg's gait
- restricted range of motion
- weight (<50th percentile)
- symptoms of hypothyroidism or panhypopituitarism
- renal failure
- recent trauma
- male sex
- endocrine disorders
- geographic region
- prior radiotherapy
1st investigations to order
- bilateral antero-posterior x-rays
- frog-leg lateral x-rays
Investigations to consider
- metabolic panel
- serum thyroid function tests
- serum growth hormone
- Hip fractures
- Avascular necrosis
- Legg-Calve-Perthes' disease
- Open reduction of slipped capital femoral epiphysis
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