Slipped Upper Femoral Epiphysis - S.U.F.E.

What is it?

This condition affects the teenage person while their bones are still growing and is particularly prevelent when the child has its growth spurt. It occurs where the growth plate at the upper end of the femur (thigh bone) de-couples and the head of the femur slips backwards and downwards. The leg tends to be in a position of twisting outwards (particularly when sitting).

If the ‘slip’ is severe it causes a problem which needs surgery in childhood. However many ‘slips’ are minor and only cause a few days or weeks hip discomfort often described by the GP as ‘growing pains’ These minor slips result in the hip joint nolonger being congrous i.e. not having a round ball in a round socket. Rather like having a bearing that is not round this results in early wear. If caught early it may be possible to correct this problem with a joint preserving operation such as an oseteotomy which changes the position of the bones and keeps the natural joint. If however the joint has become too worn then a Birmingham hip resurfacing may be more appropriate to allow the patient to return to their former lifestyle.

For treatment of this condition, see osteotomies and Birmingham hip resurfacing.