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Evolving Understanding of and Treatment Approaches to Slipped Capital Femoral Epiphysis

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Abstract

Purpose of Review

To review slipped capital femoral epiphysis (SCFE), with a focus on new insights into its etiology and evolving methods of operative fixation.

Recent Findings

The epiphyseal tubercle and its size during adolescence are paramount to understanding the mechanism of SCFE. In chronic stable SCFE, the epiphysis rotates about the tubercle protecting the lateral epiphyseal vessels from disruption. In an acute unstable SCFE, the tubercle displaces, increasing the risk of osteonecrosis, also known as avascular necrosis (AVN). Intraoperative stability suggests that stable and unstable SCFE based on ambulation may be inaccurate. For stable SCFE, in situ pinning remains the most accepted treatment for mild slips with delayed symptomatic femoroacetabular impingement (FAI) management. Treatment of moderate to severe stable slips with realignment osteotomy leads to less femoral deformity and potentially better outcomes. However, it has a higher risk of complications, including AVN and chondrolysis.

Summary

Our knowledge of the etiology for SCFE is evolving. The optimal technique for operative treatment of moderate to severe SCFE is controversial and varies by center. Well-controlled studies of these patients are needed to understand the best treatment for this difficult problem. Furthermore, increasing the awareness about SCFE is paramount to allow for early recognition and treatment of deformity at its early stages and avoiding severe SCFE deformity which has been associated with worse long-term outcomes.

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Correspondence to James D. Wylie.

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James D. Wylie reports research funding from Arthrex, Inc., is an editorial board member for Arthroscopy and a board committee member for AOSSM.

Eduardo N. Novais declares no potential conflicts of interest.

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Wylie, J.D., Novais, E.N. Evolving Understanding of and Treatment Approaches to Slipped Capital Femoral Epiphysis. Curr Rev Musculoskelet Med 12, 213–219 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12178-019-09547-5

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