Systematic Reviews
Copyright ©The Author(s) 2022. Published by Baishideng Publishing Group Inc. All rights reserved.
World J Orthop. May 18, 2022; 13(5): 515-527
Published online May 18, 2022. doi: 10.5312/wjo.v13.i5.515
Prophylactic fixation of the unaffected contralateral side in children with slipped capital femoral epiphysis seems favorable: A systematic review
Steven J C Vink, Renée A van Stralen, Sophie Moerman, Christiaan J A van Bergen
Steven J C Vink, Renée A van Stralen, Department of Orthopedic Surgery, Erasmus Medical Center, Rotterdam 3015GD, Netherlands
Sophie Moerman, Department of Orthopedic Surgery, University Medical Center Groningen, Groningen 9713GZ, Netherlands
Christiaan J A van Bergen, Department of Orthopedic Surgery, Amphia Hospital, Breda 4818CK, Netherlands
Author contributions: Vink SJC drafted and finalized the manuscript; van Stralen RA and Moerman S contributed to the data collection; van Bergen CJA supervised the writing process; All authors contributed to the inclusion and assessment of the study quality of eligible articles, reviewed and commented on the text and approved the final version.
Conflict-of-interest statement: The authors declare no conflict of interests for this article. This study did not receive funding.
PRISMA 2009 Checklist statement: The authors have read the PRISMA 2009 Checklist, and the manuscript was prepared and revised according to the PRISMA 2009 Checklist.
Open-Access: This article is an open-access article that was selected by an in-house editor and fully peer-reviewed by external reviewers. It is distributed in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution NonCommercial (CC BY-NC 4.0) license, which permits others to distribute, remix, adapt, build upon this work non-commercially, and license their derivative works on different terms, provided the original work is properly cited and the use is non-commercial. See:
Corresponding author: Steven J C Vink, MD, Department of Orthopedic Surgery, Erasmus Medical Center, Doctor Molewaterplein 40, Rotterdam 3015GD, Netherlands.
Received: October 12, 2021
Peer-review started: October 12, 2021
First decision: March 7, 2022
Revised: March 21, 2022
Accepted: April 25, 2022
Article in press: April 25, 2022
Published online: May 18, 2022

Slipped capital femoral epiphysis (SCFE) occurs in adolescents and has an incidence of around 10 per 100000 children. Children presenting with a unilateral SCFE are 2335 times more likely to develop a contralateral SCFE than the general population. Prognostic factors that have been suggested to increase the risk of contralateral slip include a younger patient, an underlying endocrine disorder, growth hormone use and a higher radiographic posterior sloping angle. However, there is still much debate on the advantages and disadvantages of prophylactic fixation of the unaffected side in an otherwise healthy patient.


To investigate the risk rate of contralateral SCFE and assess the (dis)advantages of prophylactic fixation of the contralateral hip.


A systematic literature search was performed in the Embase, Medline, Web of Science Core Collection and Cochrane databases. Search terms included ‘slipped capital femoral epiphysis,’ ‘fixation,’ ‘contralateral,’ and derivatives. The eligibility of the acquired articles was independently assessed by the authors and additional relevant articles were included through cross-referencing. Publications were considered eligible for inclusion if they presented data about otherwise healthy children with primarily unilateral SCFE and the outcomes of prophylactically pinning their unaffected side, or about the rates of contralateral slips and complications thereof. The study quality of the included articles was assessed independently by the authors by means of the methodological index for non-randomized studies criteria.


Of 293 identified unique publications, we included 26 studies with a total of 12897 patients. 1762 patients (14%) developed a subsequent symptomatic contralateral slip. In addition, 38% of patients developed a subsequent slip on the contralateral side without experiencing clinical symptoms. The most outspoken advantage of prophylactic fixation of the contralateral hip in the literature is prevention of an (asymptomatic) slip, thus reducing the increased risk of avascular necrosis (AVN), cam morphology and osteoarthritis. Disadvantages include an increased risk of infection, AVN, peri-implant fractures, loss of fixation as well as migration of hardware and morphologic changes as a consequence of growth guidance. These risks, however, appeared to only occur incidentally and were usually mild compared to the risks involved with an actual SCFE.


The advantages of prophylactic pinning of the unaffected side in otherwise healthy patients with unilateral SCFE seem to outweigh the disadvantages. The final decision for treatment remains to be patient-tailored.

Keywords: Slipped capital femoral epiphysis, Primary prevention, Postoperative complications, Risk factors, Radiography

Core Tip: The aim of this article is to provide an evidence-based review of the epidemiology, risk factors, radiographic imaging, treatment and outcomes of the unaffected contralateral side in otherwise healthy children with unilateral slipped capital femoral epiphysis. It provides a systematically reviewed comprehensive assessment of the advantages and disadvantages that should be considered when deciding on whether or not to prophylactically pin the healthy side.