dr. Gary Nattrass

Paediatric Orthopaedic Surgeon

Slipped Upper Femoral Epiphysis (SUFE)

Slipper Upper Femoral Epiphysis SUFE Dr Gary Nattrass

What is Slipped upper femoral epiphysis (SUFE)

A Slipped Upper Femoral Epiphysis (SUFE) or Slipped Capital Femoral Epiphysis (SCFE) is a hip joint condition that primarily affects growing children and adolescents from 10-15 years old. It occurs when the femoral head suffers a form of fracture through the growth plate, and slips out of position relative to the rest of the femur. This slippage causes pain and decreased movement of the hip.


How to Diagnose Slipped Upper Femoral Epiphysis (SUFE)

When meeting with Gary to discuss concerns of possible SUFE, you can rest assured that your child is in the hands of an experienced and passionate paediatric orthopaedic surgeon. 

Gary is committed to ensuring that patients feel at ease during their consultation, and that their specific needs are met. During your appointment, he will take time to gently assess your child, looking out for any abnormalities in the hip motion or walking pattern, whilst also explaining the condition and treatment options in a way that is easy to understand. 

Gary is dedicated to providing the highest level of care and takes great pleasure in alleviating your child’s pain and seeing them regain their mobility. 


Quick Facts about SUFE


Puberty hormones/Biomechanical factors/ Genetics 

Signs/ Symptoms

Difficulty bearing weight on the affected leg, Limited range of motion in hip joint



Treatment Process



Surgery 3-6 months

Covered under Medicare?

Yes, select patients may be eligible

Read the SUFE fact sheet

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For more information read the Royal Children’s Hospital Melbourne Slipped Upper Femoral Epiphysis Fact Sheet.

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SUFE symptoms include

  • Difficulty bearing weight on the leg
  • Limping or knee pain 
  • Asymmetry of legs 
  • An abnormal walking pattern
  • A ‘pulled muscle’ feeling in the hip, groin or thigh
  • Limited range of motion and mobility in the hip joint

Slipped Upper Femoral Epiphysis (SUFE) is relatively common and occurs between 0.2 and 10 per 100,000 population. It is more prevalent in males than females, with the average age of diagnosis being 13.5 years in males and 12 years in females. About half of the adolescents with SUFE are above the 95th percentile for weight.

The exact cause of SUFE is unknown, however, it is believed to be influenced by a combination of factors, including

  • Puberty hormones
  • Biomechanical factors that put extra stress on the hip joint, such as obesity
  • Genetics

In general, all children with a Slipped Upper Femoral Epiphysis (SUFE) will require surgery to stabilise the hip joint. It is important to avoid standing up and placing weight on the affected leg until the SUFE is stabilised.


There is no successful non-operative approach to SUFE. Some children will also need a realignment of the head of the femur relative to the rest of the bone. This may occur in the acute phase or later, after the slippage is stabilised.

Crutches or a wheelchair may be required for a period of time. Physiotherapy may be started to help improve the strength, flexibility and range of motion in the hip joint.

Recovery can vary greatly depending on the individual case. In a simple, minimally displaced SUFE, the patient may be able to return to full activities after 6 weeks. In more severe SUFE requiring more involved surgery, the rehabilitation process can be many months.

Vic Ortho Staff

Speak to our friendly team​​

Not all conditions and symptoms are alike. If you have a concern about your child’s wellbeing or would like to direct questions to Gary Nattrass you may contact our friendly team on 03 9322 3360.

We will gladly take your call and assist you with your enquiry.