Proximal femoral changes related to obesity: An analysis of slipped capital femoral epiphysis pathoanatomy

Travis W. Winston, Andrew J. Landau, Pooya Hosseinzadeh

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Recent research has revealed the importance of the femoral epiphyseal tubercle and cupping height in the stability of the physis and its association with capital femoral slippage. To better understand the connection between the pathogenesis of slipped capital femoral epiphysis and obesity, we performed a retrospective analysis of proximal femur and acetabular anatomies using computed tomography (CT) scans in the hips of normal weight and obese pediatric patients. We measured morphologic characteristics of the proximal femur and acetabulum in developing hips of 31 obese adolescent patients and age-matched and sex-matched control group using pelvic CT scans. Measurements included physeal diameter, tubercle height, width, and volume, cupping height, acetabular rotation and inclination, and metaphyseal bone density. Measurements were performed on true coronal and sagittal views through the center of the epiphysis using previously described and validated techniques. Statistical analysis was performed to compare the measurements between obese and nonobese adolescents. The epiphyseal tubercle volume and average cupping size were similar between the two groups. Acetabular inclination and metaphyseal bone density were significantly different between the cohorts. Metaphyseal bone density was lower among obese patients. Obesity does not appear to cause morphologic changes to the capital femoral physis, though it is associated with a decreased metaphyseal bone mineral density which could indicate physeal instability. This could suggest increased metabolic activity in the metaphyseal bone in obese adolescents. Therefore, metabolic factors associated with obesity, rather than anatomical changes, may be responsible for physeal instability seen in obese adolescents.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)216-223
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Pediatric Orthopaedics Part B
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 1 2022


  • acetabulum
  • adolescent
  • computed tomography
  • cupping
  • epiphyseal tubercle
  • femur head
  • hip
  • metaphyseal bone density
  • obesity
  • slipped capital femoral epiphysis


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