Treatment and long-term outlook for SCFE at Rocky Mountain Hospital for Children, Denver

How is slipped capital femoral epiphysis treated?

For both the stable and the unstable SCFE, treatment involves surgical intervention.  The stable SCFE can be managed with one or two large screws placed through relatively small incisions to anchor the femoral head in place so that it can slip no further.  The unstable SCFE may require a much more extensive surgery to correct the abnormal position and provide stability of the femoral head on the femoral neck.

At the time of surgery, the doctor will assess the risk of the unaffected hip.  Especially for patients who are young, there is a high likelihood that the normal hip may also develop SCFE.  Sometimes the surgeon will stabilize the other side as well, even if it hasn't slipped yet, just because the risk is high that it could happen.  This limits your child’s need for a second anesthesia and a second recovery.

What is the long-term outlook for SCFE?

Follow up visits are required to insure that femoral head is healing to the femoral neck. Gradual return to play will be permitted as healing progresses and the surgeon is reassured that the blood supply to the femoral head hasn’t been interrupted by the SCFE. 

As a part of his pre-op and intra-op evaluation, his surgeon determined that Sylvester’s overall maturity factors indicated he was at a low risk for the same problem in the other hip. While recovering from surgery at Rocky Mountain Hospital for Children, Sylvester and his family requested counseling from the nutritionist in hopes of adopting healthy food choices at home. The family was enthusiastic to implement a new nutritional plan to help Sylvester and his siblings lose weight and minimize risks of a slipped capital femoral epiphysis.  In post-op follow ups, the family was delighted to share that the new eating program had been very successful with all members of the family looking more trim and healthy. The added benefit for Sylvester was that he had no symptoms on the opposite hip and he felt more energetic and athletic.