Slipped Upper Femoral Epiphysis (SUFE)

Information for Families – Slipped Upper Femoral Epiphysis (SUFE)

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Introduction

SUFE is a hip condition that affects children and adolescents usually between the ages of 10 and 15 years. The hip joint is a ‘ball and socket’ joint between the head of the thigh bone (ball) and the pelvic bone (socket). The ball shaped head has a growth layer. If the top part of the femur ‘slips’ through that growth layer, the ball becomes an egg shape. This is a SUFE.

 

What are the symptoms and signs?

Slips can sometimes usually cause pain and ache in the groin, but sometimes the discomfort is felt in the thigh or even the knee (referred pain). Sometimes the pain can make it difficult to weight bear through the affected leg, but if not usually the patient has an odd walking pattern or a limp.

 

How is it diagnosed?

SUFE is confirmed by taking special X-rays of the hip joint.

 

How is it treated?

Treatment options vary depending on the severity of the slip, the timing of the symptoms and the patient’s ability to weight bear or not. Your consultant will go through in detail what the options are including the pros and cons of each of these treatments. The aim of treatments are to stop the slip from getting any worse and trying to restore or maintain the normal anatomy (shape) of the ball.

 

Natural History and Prognosis?

About a quarter of patients (25%) will have a slip of he other hip so it’ s important to be on the look out for early symptoms and signs.

 

Any child with a significant hip problem can run into problems with hip arthritis. This can be more likely if the head ends up as an egg shape and the socket is a ball shape ie: mismatch. In mild slips the head shape can remodel back to a ball shape. In severe slips this is less likely and bigger operations are needed to improve prognosis.

 

If you have any further questions or queries please ask you consultant or orthopaedic specialist nurse in clinic.

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