Slipped Capital Femoral Epiphysis (SCFE)

Gillette Children’s Specialty Healthcare is nationally and internationally recognized as a leader in pediatric orthopedics. Our large orthopedics team includes surgeons who specialize in conditions that affect the hips, such as slipped capital femoral epiphysis. Gillette patients can count on our team of specialists to collaborate on and provide comprehensive treatment plans that meet their needs.

Why Choose Gillette?

  • We offer the expertise of one of the largest groups of fellowship-trained pediatric orthopedic surgeons in the nation.
  • We believe that a well-designed environment and advanced technology can promote healing.
  • Our experts collaborate to provide comprehensive treatment plans.
  • Our experts are on call 24 hours a day to provide patients who have slipped capital femoral epiphysis with immediate attention.


Slipped capital femoral epiphysis (SCFE) occurs when the femoral head (the ball at the upper end of the thigh bone) slips backward direction, away from the lower portion of the femur. It is often related to obesity or thyroid conditions.

Slipped Capital Femoral Epiphysis Symptoms and Effects

The symptoms and effects of SCFE differ from person to person, but some of the most common are:

  • Limping
  • Difficulty walking
  • Hip, groin or knee pain
  • Inability to bear weight on the affected leg
  • An affected leg turns inward, turns outward or appears shorter
  • Decreased range of motion
  • Joint stiffness

Slipped Capital Femoral Epiphysis Cause, Incidence and Risk Factors

The exact cause of SCFE is unknown. It often develops in periods of rapid growth during adolescence, most likely because of weakness in the growth plate.

SCFE usually occurs only in one hip, but in 20 to 40 percent of patients, it occurs in both hips. When SCFE occurs in one hip, a child’s greatest risk for developing SCFE in the other hip is within 18 months of developing the condition in the first side.

Several factors might increase a child’s risk of developing the condition.

  • Being overweight or obese
  • Having a family history of SCFE
  • Having other conditions that affect hormones, kidneys, the thyroid or the autoimmune system
  • Taking certain medications or receiving chemotherapy treatments

SCFE occurs in roughly two of every 100,000 adolescents.  Males are twice as likely as females to be affected with the condition.

Slipped Capital Femoral Epiphysis Tests and Treatments

Early diagnosis and treatment of SCFE is important for preventing long-term joint damage. In addition to reviewing a patient’s medical history and doing a physical examination, Gillette specialists might use one or a combination of the following tests to diagnose SCFE.

  • X-rays
  • MRI
  • Bone scan

Once SCFE is diagnosed, patients should not bear weight on the affected joint and should remain on bed rest. To prevent the femoral head from slipping farther away from the rest of the femur, we recommend surgery to reposition or stabilize the hip joint as soon as possible. Depending on the severity of the patient’s condition, symptoms and overall health, our specialists will determine the best type of surgery to correct SCFE.

Surgery typically involves making an incision near the hip. Then we stabilize the femoral head and growth plate with screws and pins to prevent additional slipping. In more severe cases, patients might need additional surgery to reposition the joint or reshape the bone. After surgery, physical therapy typically helps patients strengthen the hip and leg muscles and regain mobility. We usually monitor the unaffected side of the hip to ensure that SCFE does not develop. As a precautionary measure, in some cases, surgeons stabilize the unaffected hip along with the affected hip.

Slipped Capital Femoral Epiphysis Services

Gillette’s team approach to care helps us identify SCFE early and manage it properly. Because we offer access to a variety of experts, we make it easy for patients, families and providers to determine the best treatments for each situation.

Specialties and services most often involved in the care and treatment of SCFE include:

Gillette patients can also receive services for conditions related to SCFE, such as early arthritis or hip pain. Our goal is to help patients achieve their highest possible levels of health, independence and happiness.

For more about Gillette’s comprehensive services, search Conditions and Care.

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Because all children deserve a lifetime of amazing health care.

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