Diagnosing slipped capital femoral epiphysis, Rocky Mountain Hospital for Children, Denver
What are the symptoms of slipped capital femoral epiphysis?
The early warning signs of SCFE are often not recognized or are minimized. Kids will have thigh and knee pain that seems to improve with rest leading the patient and family to believe it’s just an "overuse" problem. SCFE irritates the nerves in the leg causing referred pain (pain that originates in one part of the body but is felt in another). In this case, pain originates in the abnormal hip joint but is felt in the thigh and around the normal knee joint.
How is slipped capital femoral epiphysis diagnosed?
A thorough physical exam will help the doctor determine that the "knee pain" is truly originating at the hip. Range of motion will be decreased and altered when compared to the unaffected side. X-rays will usually show the subtle change in position associated with the stable SCFE. Occasionally, in a very early presentation, the x-rays may appear normal. An MRI, in this rare case, will show inflammation and edema at the growth plate.