Clinical Orthopaedics and Related Research®

, Volume 471, Issue 7, pp 2156–2162 | Cite as

Slipped Capital Femoral Epiphysis: Relevant Pathophysiological Findings With Open Surgery

  • Kai Ziebarth
  • Michael LeunigEmail author
  • Theddy Slongo
  • Young-Jo Kim
  • Reinhold Ganz
Symposium: Slipped Capital Femoral Epiphysis: Update and Emerging Concepts



Traditionally arthrotomy has rarely been performed during surgery for slipped capital femoral epiphysis (SCFE). As a result, most pathophysiological information about the articular surfaces was derived clinically and radiographically. Novel insights regarding deformity-induced damage and epiphyseal perfusion became available with surgical hip dislocation.


We (1) determined the influence of chronicity of prodromal symptoms and severity of SCFE deformity on severity of cartilage damage. (2) In surgically confirmed disconnected epiphyses, we determined the influence of injury and time to surgery on epiphyseal perfusion; and (3) the frequency of new bone at the posterior neck potentially reducing perfusion during epimetaphyseal reduction.


We reviewed 116 patients with 119 SCFE and available records treated between 1996 and 2011. Acetabular cartilage damage was graded as +/++/+++ in 109 of the 119 hips. Epiphyseal perfusion was determined with laser-Doppler flowmetry at capsulotomy and after reduction. Information about bone at the posterior neck was retrieved from operative reports.


Ninety-seven of 109 hips (89%) had documented cartilage damage; severity was not associated with higher slip angle or chronicity; disconnected epiphyses had less damage. Temporary or definitive cessation of perfusion in disconnected epiphyses increased with time to surgery; posterior bone resection improved the perfusion. In one necrosis, the retinaculum was ruptured; two were in the group with the longest time interval. Posterior bone formation is frequent in disconnected epiphyses, even without prodromal periods.


Addressing the cause of cartilage damage (cam impingement) should become an integral part of SCFE surgery. Early surgery for disconnected epiphyses appears to reduce the risk of necrosis. Slip reduction without resection of posterior bone apposition may jeopardize epiphyseal perfusion.

Level of Evidence

Level IV, retrospective case series. See Guidelines for Authors for a complete description of levels of evidence.


Cartilage Damage Slip Capital Femoral Epiphysis Slip Angle Prodromal Symptom Posterior Neck 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



We thank Franco Impellizeri, PhD, from the Research Group at Schulthess Clinic for his statistical support in this study.


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Copyright information

© The Association of Bone and Joint Surgeons® 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kai Ziebarth
    • 1
    • 2
  • Michael Leunig
    • 3
    Email author
  • Theddy Slongo
    • 2
    • 4
  • Young-Jo Kim
    • 5
  • Reinhold Ganz
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Orthopaedic SurgeryInselspitalBerneSwitzerland
  2. 2.University of BerneBerneSwitzerland
  3. 3.Department of Orthopedics, Orthopaedic SurgerySchulthess ClinicZurichSwitzerland
  4. 4.Department of Pediatric OrthopaedicsInselspitalBerneSwitzerland
  5. 5.Department of Orthopaedic SurgeryBoston Children’s HospitalBostonUSA

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