FOR 14-year-old Nigerian national Chisom Anikpe, the last four months had been excruciatingly painful, during which he was left bed-ridden for almost a month, after returning home from boarding school.
While mystery loomed large during the initial stage of his diagnosis, X-rays revealed that he was suffering from a severe backward slip at the head of the thigh bone that previously sat squarely on Chisom’s hip bones.
“Initially he used to walk with a slight limp and occasionally complained of pain in the hip region during his stay at boarding school. It was after he returned home, the symptoms aggravated. He would scream in pain and wasn’t even able to sit,” said Chisom’s mother Joy, a businesswoman in Nigeria.
The diagnosis revealed that Chisom was suffering from an unusual adolescent disorder called slipped capital femoral epiphysis (SCFE). Following the diagnosis, the Anikpes decided to come to Mumbai for his treatment.
In the city, Chisom was operated upon at the Kokilaben Dhirubhai Ambani Hospital in Andheri (West). Standing at 5 feet 3 inches and weighing 75 kg, doctors said Chisom’s Body Mass Index (BMI) was 28, which ideally is supposed to be anywhere between 20-22 for his age.
“As the patient is overweight and a young African, he is genetically prone to suffer from SCFE because the occurrence of the disorder is common in African adolescents,” said Dr Alaric Aroojis, consultant paediatric orthopaedic surgeon at the hospital.
“In Chisom’s case, the femur ball had slipped more than 75 per cent on both sides, which is called a grade three or severe slip.”
Chisom underwent a five-hour-long surgery for his right hip on May 23, two days after he was flown to the hospital, followed by another surgery on the left hip.
The surgical correction involved opening and dislocating the hip joint to cut the excess bone formation around the thigh bones and realign the displaced heads. Following physiotherapy, Chisom is now able to sit comfortably and walk with the help of support.
“After enduring so many months of pain and discomfort, I’m looking forward to resuming school and swimming and playing football again,” Chisom said.
Dr Aroojis said Chisom would be able to walk on his own without any help within a month’s time and would be discharged soon.
Indians at risk
Though SCFE is more commonly seen in African countries and the US, doctors say that they have been treating an increasing number of Indian adolescents suffering from this weight-related disorder due to growing obesity among children.
“I have treated about 20 to 25 cases of mild to moderate SCFE in Indian adolescents and six cases of severe slips that required major surgeries in the last three years. All the patients were between the age of 11 to 15 and were obese,” Dr Aroojis said.
“Obesity is becoming a major problem in the city, due which adolescents are experiencing such complications.”
Dr Pradeep Bhosale, orthopaedic department head at KEM Hospital, said, “We routinely get such cases, wherein children between the age of 10 to 15 need treatment. We have observed that 2 to 3 per cent of the cases we treat are of this disorder and once every three months we get a youngster suffering from a severe slip of thigh bones on both sides. Chances that obesity is the reason for this disorder are over 50 per cent.”