Legg-Calve-Perthes Disease

What is Legg-Calve-Perthes Disease?

Legg-Calve-Perthes disease is a childhood hip disorder that is initiated by an interruption of blood flow to the ball of the femur that is known as the femoral head.

Legg-Calve-Perthes disease is also known as LCP or Perthes disease. Because of the absence of blood flow the bone dies (osteonecrosis or avascular necrosis) and ceases to grow. Over a period of time healing occurs when new blood vessels infiltrate the bone and remove the necrotic bone which causes loss of bone mass and a weakening of the femoral head. This loss of bone mass causes the head of the thigh bone to collapse and the area to become inflamed and irritated.

This condition is rare and usually occurs in children aged 4 to 10 years and is experienced more often among boys than girls. As LCP runs its course the body absorbs dead bone cells and replaces them with new ones and reshapes the head of the thigh bone resulting in a deformation that can lead to arthritis later in life. Legg-Calve-Perthes disease typically occurs in only one hip but bilateral Perthes happens in about ten percent of children diagnosed.

What are the Symptoms of Legg-Calve-Perthes Disease?

Patients with Legg-Calve-Parthese Disease may experience hip, knee, or groin pain that is made worse by hip or leg movement; reduced range of motion, appearance of an intermittent limp (abductor lurch) with mild pain, and the quadriceps muscles and their adjacent thigh soft tissues may atrophy.

How is Legg-Calve-Perthes Disease Treated?

Basic treatments usually include removing mechanical pressure from the joint until the disease has run its course. Options include using traction (separating the femur from the pelvis to reduce wear), or braces (for at least an eighteen month period) in order to restore range of motion, and surgical intervention when there is permanent joint damage.

Last Reviewed:
September 21, 2016
Last Updated:
September 01, 2017
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