What is the functional anatomy of slipped capital femoral epiphysis (SCFE)?

Updated: Dec 03, 2018
  • Author: Kevin D Walter, MD, FAAP; Chief Editor: Craig C Young, MD  more...
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Answer

SCFE results from a Salter-Harris type physeal fracture. In patients with SCFE, the epiphyseal growth plate is unusually widened, primarily due to expansion of the zone of hypertrophy. The hypertrophic zone, which constitutes 15-30% of the normal physis, can account for up to 80% of the width of the physeal plate in affected patients. Histologically, abnormal cartilage maturation, endochondral ossification, and perichondral ring instability occur. This leads to less organization of the normal cartilaginous columnar architecture. Slippage occurs through this weakened area.

The position of the proximal physis normally changes from horizontal to oblique during preadolescence and adolescence, redirecting hip forces from compression forces to shear forces. There is an association between femoral neck retroversion and a reduced neck-shaft angle with SCFE. These changes can increase the shear forces across the hip, leading to SCFE. [21] Other concomitant findings in the hip include inflammatory synovitis and disorganized collagen fibrils with accumulations of proteoglycans and glycoproteins within the growth plate; however, whether these changes are a cause or a result of SCFE remains undetermined.


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