Slipped Upper Femoral Epiphysis Claims

Slipped upper femoral epiphysis is a rare hip disorder in adolescents that can result in serious injury and a permanent limp if not detected early enough. If you or your child has suffered due to a delayed diagnosis or misdiagnosis, the experienced team at JMW can help you make a successful claim for compensation.

Our clinical negligence team can provide the support that you and your family needs to help you through what may initially seem a complex and testing process. We can help make it as hassle-free as possible. Call us on 0800 054 6512 or complete our online enquiry form to discuss your case in more detail.

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Reasons for Misdiagnosis

Many children with a slipped upper femoral epiphysis will complain of pain following sport, which may well be dismissed as a pulled muscle or a strained ligament. Doctors should suspect a slipped upper femoral epiphysis if a limping adolescent complains of persisting pain in the knee, thigh, groin or hip, regardless of recent trauma or exertion.

Unfortunately, a slipped upper femoral epiphysis can easily be missed on X-ray. An early slipped upper femoral epiphysis (SUFE) can be difficult to spot, as the signs are very subtle. 12% of cases are not diagnosed on an anteroposterior (AP) X-ray and lateral or 'frog-leg' lateral X-rays may be more helpful in showing the widening of the epiphyseal line or displacement of the femoral head.

If treated early then the prognosis for a slipped upper femoral epiphysis is very good, but a delay in treatment can result in serious long-term disability.

Prompt Diagnosis Required

With chronic presentation, the child has mild symptoms and is still able to walk with an altered gait. A significant number of cases report knee pain as the only symptom.

If the condition is treated early, and while the patient is still able to bear weight, there is a 96% chance of a good prognosis. However, if it is more severe and the leg is unable to bear weight, the chance of a good outcome reduces to 47%. There is also a 50% chance of avascular necrosis in severe cases. It is therefore important that a prompt diagnosis is made.

Suspicion of Slipped Upper Femoral Epiphysis

As a rule of thumb, a doctor should suspect a slipped epiphysis every time he sees an adolescent or pre-adolescent who complains of pain in the knee, until proven otherwise.

Another cause of misdiagnosis is the assumption that a limp, accompanied by pain in the groin, thigh or knee, is associated with injury. Many children with a slipped upper femoral epiphysis will complain of pain following sport, which may be dismissed as a pulled muscle or a strained ligament. Such injuries will usually resolve within a few weeks and are not generally associated with a persistent limp.

It has also been suggested that doctors should suspect a slipped upper femoral epiphysis if a limping adolescent complains of persisting pain in the knee, the thigh, groin or hip, regardless of recent trauma or exertion.

X-ray Errors

A slipped upper femoral epiphysis might also be missed on X-ray. An early SUFE can be difficult to spot because the signs can be very subtle. A significant number are not diagnosed on an AP X-ray and other types of X-ray, including lateral X-rays, may prove more useful.

Radiologists should look carefully for signs of slipped upper femoral epiphysis if the patient's age and history are suspicious - for instance, if the adolescent suffers from a limp and/or pain.

If these signs are missed and there is a delay in treatment, this can have particularly adverse outcomes.

Why Choose JMW?

Our solicitors are highly experienced in dealing with claims of this nature and we will provide the guidance you need throughout the process, keeping you fully informed of how it is progressing and answering any questions you may have.

We always take a proactive and professional approach, putting in the hard work to ensure the process is as stress-free for you as possible.

Our clinical negligence team is among the most highly regarded in the North West and is headed by leading solicitor Eddie Jones. Members of our team are on the Action against Medical Accidents (AvMA) solicitors' panel, while others are members of the Law Society's specialist panel for clinical negligence. 

Talk to Us

If you or a member of your family are suffering from slipped upper femoral epiphysis and are unhappy with the surgery or treatment you have received, or believe the surgeon, doctor, nursing professionals or hospital has acted negligently, contact us for professional advice.

Either call us on 0800 054 6512 or complete our online enquiry form and one of our specialists will give you a call back.

Slipped Upper Femoral Epiphysis Explained

Slipped upper femoral epiphysis (SUFE) or slipped capital femoral epiphysis is the most common hip disorder in adolescence. It is three times as common in boys.

Risk factors for adolescents include being tall and thin following a growth spurt, or being obese. SUFE can be a cause of limping and leg pain in adolescents, and the symptoms should be taken seriously.

Prior to the slip, the patient will often have slight discomfort. The acute onset of SUFE presents with severe pain, to the extent that the child is unable to walk or stand.

In an acute or chronic presentation, the child can be in pain with a limp and altered gait, which can occur for several months before suddenly becoming more painful.



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