Slipped femoral epiphysis

common problems

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Slipped femoral epiphysis

3-D surface reconstruction of a young man's hip after a childhood slip showing the non-round shape of the ball of the hip. The blurred shadow along the front of the joint indicates the metal screws within the bone that were used to arrest the slip as a child.

What is a slipped upper femoral epiphysis (or SUFE)?

This is a childhood condition in which the ball of the hip begins to slip backwards off the neck of the femur or thighbone. It may slip a little or a lot, but it is not really clear why it happens. When it does happen, an operation may be necessary to fix it with a pin or a screw to stop the slip getting worse, or even to reposition the ball correctly on the femoral neck. In most children, these symptoms settle down and they recover to enjoy a normal childhood and adolescence. As young adults, some people who have had slips start to experience pain again. This is due to a form of femoroacetabular impingement because the junction between the head and neck of femur is misshapen.

Can the consequences of a slipped upper femoral epiphysis be treated?

In most people, hip arthroscopy can be used to reshape the junction between the head and neck of the femur in order to provide normal clearance, improve the range of movement, and relieve pain.