Introduction: Delays in the diagnosis of stable slipped capital femoral epiphysis (SCFE) is common due to the vague symptomatology and the lack of awareness of this entity by healthcare providers. Delays in the diagnosis of this condition can lead to poor outcomes for the patients. This study was designed to identify factors that contributed to delays in the diagnosis or the treatment of patients with SCFE seen at our institution. Methods: A retrospective chart review of patients with the diagnosis of a stable SCFE who had undergone screw stabilization between 1989 and 2010 at our hospital was performed. For each patient, demographic data, the date of initial onset of symptoms, the date of the first visit to the medical provider, the type of provider seen initially (orthopaedic surgeon or not), the date of diagnosis of SCFE, the type of physician who made the diagnosis (orthopaedic surgeon or not), and the date of surgery were recorded. For each patient, the presenting symptom was recorded as hip, thigh, or knee pain. The effect of demographic data, presenting symptoms, and the type of initial provider seen on the delay to diagnosis was studied using 2 Cox models. Results: A total of 149 patients with 196 stable SCFE were included. The average time from the first physician visit to diagnosis was 94 days in the group seen by a nonorthopaedic provider compared with an average of 2.9 days in the group seen by an orthopaedist (P<0.05). Diagnosis was made in 1 week only in 19% of the group seen by a nonorthopaedic provider versus 97% in the group seen by orthopaedic surgeons. It took significantly longer to be diagnosed with SCFE in patients who presented with initial knee pain (P=0.0097) compared with those who presented with hip pain at the initial visit. Conclusions: This study shows a significant delay in the diagnosis of SCFE in the United States, particularly in patients seen by nonorthopaedic providers initially.
- non orthopedic provider
- orthopedic surgeon
- slipped capital femoral epiphysis