Perthes disease


These guidelines have been produced to guide clinical decision making for general practitioners (GPs). They are not strict protocols. Clinical common-sense should be applied at all times. These clinical guidelines should never be relied on as a substitute for proper assessment with respect to the particular circumstances of each case and the needs of each patient. Clinicians should also consider the local skill level available and their local area policies before following any guideline.



Perthes disease is a self-limiting avascular necrosis of the femoral head. It is more common in boys aged 3 to 11 years old however may develop in girls and adolescents. It is usually unilateral but can be bilateral.

For unknown reasons, the blood supply to the femoral head is interrupted causing a cascade of necrosis, reabsorption of damaged bone and rebuilding. The disease process is variable but can take 2 to 4 years from avascular state to full remodelling of the femoral head. The goal of treatment is to maintain the spherical shape of the femoral head through the healing phase to prevent later onset of arthritis

For current guidelines on assessment, management and referral guidelines on Perthes disease please visit HealthPathways WA

How to refer

  • Routine non-urgent referrals from a GP or a Consultant are made via the Central Referral Service.
  • Routine non-urgent referrals from private hospitals are made via the PCH Referral Office (Fax: 6456 0097 or email
  • Urgent referrals (review in less than seven days) are made via the PCH Referral Office. Please call Perth Children’s Hospital Switch on 6456 2222 to discuss referral with the Orthopaedic Registrar.

Reviewer/Team: Dr Kate Stannage, Orthopaedics Dept, PCH Last reviewed: Sep 2021

Review date: Sep 2024
Endorsed by:

CPAC Date:  Sep 2021

This document can be made available in alternative formats on request for a person with a disability.

Referring service