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SCFE/SUFE – Slipped Capital Femoral Epiphysis

SCFE- Slipped Capital Femoral Epiphysis


Slipped capital femoral epiphysis (SCFE) is a hip condition that occurs in teens and pre-teens who are still growing. For reasons that are not well understood, the ball at the head of the femur (thighbone) slips off the neck of the bone in a backwards direction. This causes pain, stiffness, and gait problems in the affected hip. The condition usually develops gradually over time and is more common in boys than girls.


The hip is a ball-and-socket joint. The socket is formed by the acetabulum, which is part of the large pelvis bone. The ball is the femoral head, which is the upper end of the femur (thighbone).  Like the other long bones in the body, the femur does not grow from the center outward. Instead, growth occurs at each end of the bone around an area of developing cartilage called the growth plate (physis).  Growth plates are located between the widened part of the shaft of the bone (metaphysis) and the end of the bone (epiphysis).  This round area of bone growth at the top of the femur is called the “capital femoral epiphysis”, and eventually forms the femoral head (ball).

Treatment for SCFE involves surgery to stop the head of the femur from slipping any further. To achieve the best outcome, it is important to be diagnosed as quickly as possible. Without early detection and proper treatment, SCFE can lead to potentially serious complications, including painful arthritis in the hip joint.

A slippery tissue called articular cartilage covers the surface of the ball and the socket. It creates a smooth, low friction surface that helps the bones glide easily across each other.

SCFE Anatomy
(Left) Normal anatomy of the hip. (Right) The location of the growth plates and epiphyses at the ends of the femur (thighbone).
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