What is Legg-Calvé-Perthes disease?
Legg-Calvé-Perthes disease, or Perthes disease, is a childhood hip condition in which the ball-shaped head of the thigh bone (femoral head) loses its blood supply and collapses. The body will absorb the dead bone cells and replace them with new bone cells. The new bone cells eventually reshape the femoral head of the thigh bone.
Legg-Calvé-Perthes disease causes the hip joint to become painful and stiff. It can also leave the femoral head deformed and lead to disability.
Perthes disease goes through four phases:
- Phase 1: Blood stops reaching the femoral head, and the hip joint becomes inflamed, stiff and painful. Portions of the bone turn into dead tissue. The ball of the thigh bone becomes less round. This phase can last from several months up to one year.
- Phase 2: The body cleans up the dead bone cells and replaces them with new, healthier bone cells. The femoral head begins to remodel into a round shape again. The joint is still irritated and painful. This phase can last from one to three years.
- Phase 3: The femoral head continues to model itself back into a round shape with new bone. This phase lasts for one to three years.
- Phase 4: Normal bone cells replace the new bone cells. This last phase can last a few years to complete the healing process.