18 April 2020
Delayed diagnosis and treatment is a universally reported problem that impairs the prognosis of slipped capital femoral epiphysis (SCFE). Quite frequently, a delayed diagnosis of SCFE is observed in spite of serial admissions and examinations of the limping adolescent. Why do health professionals globally fail to make a definitive diagnosis of SCFE during the first examination of the patient? A retrospective study of 36 adolescents treated for stable SCFE and two adolescents treated for unstable SCFE has been performed. In more than half of the delayed diagnosed stable slips (13/25, 52%), the diagnosis was set after serial examinations of the patient. Health professionals commonly order only the anteroposterior (AP) X-ray view of the pelvis when examining a non-traumatic limping adolescent. The frog lateral (FL) projection is usually spared in an attempt to limit the radiation exposure of the patient, especially in ambulating adolescents with mild symptoms. It is proposed that in the non-traumatic limping adolescent, the FL projection instead of the AP pelvis view should be requested by the health professional in order to timely diagnose a surgical emergency of the adolescent hip such as SCFE.