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Perthes Disease

Cause of Hip Pain and Limp in Children


Updated January 20, 2014

Legg-Calve-Perthes disease, often called Perthes disease, is the result of abnormal blood flow to the head of the femur (ball of the ball-and-socket hip joint) in a child. The blood supply to this area of the hip joint is susceptible to abnormalities. When this occurs, new bone formation at the growth plate can be interrupted. Lack of blood supply to this area of bone causes a problem called osteonecrosis; this means that the lack of blood flow causes the bone cells to die.

Symptoms of Perthes Disease

Perthes disease is most common in boys between the ages of 4 and 8; about one-fifth of cases of Perthes disease will present in both hips. Typical symptoms of Perthes disease include:

Treatment of Perthes Disease

Treatment of Perthes disease varies depending on the extent of the condition. In general, treatment is aimed at relief of symptoms, maintaining hip range of motion, and keeping the hip in the proper position. Occasionally, surgery is needed to keep the femoral head inside the hip joint, but most often treatment of Perthes disease is non-surgical. The long term effects of Perthes disease include an increased chance of developing hip arthritis.


Kim HK. "Legg-Calvé-Perthes Disease" J Am Acad Orthop Surg November 2010 ; 18:676-686.

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