Child Orthopedics

Frequently Asked Questions

I've heard that slipped capital femoral epiphysis is a genetic condition. But no one in our families on either side has this problem and our son does. Are there other causes of this condition?

Slipped capital femoral epiphysis (SCFE) is a disease of the hip in older children and young teens. During a period of rapid adolescent growth, the growth plate separates from the femoral neck (upper portion of the thigh bone). The growth center of the hip (the capital femoral epiphysis) actually slips backwards on the top of the femur (the thighbone). There may be many factors contributing to the development of SCFE. These include genetic, endocrine, and mechanical risk factors. The exact mechanism by which the condition develops isn't fully understood. Children who are overweight are more prone to developing SCFE. This suggests that the main cause of SCFE is from increased force on the hip at a time when the femoral head is not quite ready to support these forces. The femoral head fails at the weakest point, through the epiphyseal plate. As a result, a condition similar to a stress fracture develops.

Oskar Zupanc, MD, PhD, et al. Shear Stress in Epiphyseal Growth Plate is a Risk Factor for Slipped Capital Femoral Epiphysis. In Journal of Pediatric Orthopaedics. June 2008. Vol. 28. No. 4. Pp. 444-451.

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