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Hip Arthroscopy


An arthroscopy is a minimally-invasive surgical procedure used for a range of conditions. Unlike an open repair, an arthroscopy requires only a small incision to be made to accommodate the tools necessary to perform the procedure.

After a small incision is made, a camera, called the arthroscope, is able to be inserted and is
used to help the surgeon navigate the area during the procedure. Arthroscopic procedures have been used on a variety of injuries and body parts, but in the hip, they are typically used to repair damaged tissue or clear out loose bodies in or around the joint area.

There are conditions that can affect the inside of the joint (intra-articular), and other conditions arising from outside of the joint (extra-articular). Intra-articular conditions associated with this procedure include:

  • Loose bodies inside of the joint
  • Infection
  • Damage to ligamentum teres
  • Dysplasia
  • Slipped upper capital epiphysis
  • Perthes’ Disease
  • Damage to the cartilage inside of the joint

Other conditions that may be associated with this procedure include:

  • Snapping hip syndrome
  • Femoroacetabular impingement (FAI)
  • Gluteus medius tears
  • Trochanteric bursitis

The above lists are not exhaustive, as there are many types of conditions that may benefit from an arthroscopic procedure. In some cases, the area needs to have tissues repaired, while in other cases, there may be a need to clear out loose tissue or take out damaged tissue.

You may hear your healthcare provider use the term “debridement” when discussing this
procedure with you, which simply means that the surgeon will go in and remove damaged tissue or loose bodies in the affected area. This procedure is meant to help reduce pain and inflammation of a joint; it can also be used to correct or repair damaged tissue. In some cases, arthroscopy can be used to confirm a diagnosis.

What is Hip Arthroscopy?

Before performing an arthroscopy, your healthcare provider will discuss the risks, benefits, and possible complications with you. You’ll receive information about how to prepare, what to expect, and how long the recovery process will take. They should answer any questions,
address any of your concerns, and provide you with the information you’ll need to make an
informed decision about the right treatment option for you.

An arthroscopy is typically performed in a clinic, or outpatient, meaning you’ll likely be able to go home the same day as the procedure.

After you arrive at your appointment, you’ll likely receive anesthesia before the arthroscopy
begins. You may also receive a local anesthetic for pain control. As noted above, a small
incision will be made that allows the arthroscope and any other necessary tools inside to begin the repair, resection, or debridement.

Post-Surgical Recovery Process

Following the procedure and after you’ve been monitored and cleared by your healthcare team to head home, you’ll typically receive instructions on how to care for the healing area, any activities to avoid, and instructions for follow up appointments.

During your recovery time, you should receive information about signs or symptoms to watch for that may indicate a possible complication and who to reach out to should you have any questions or concerns.

You may receive instructions to avoid certain activities for a period of time. You may also be
instructed in how to utilize an assistive device, like crutches, during the initial stages of the
healing process. In addition, you may need to avoid placing all of your weight on the affected side until cleared by your surgeon or medical team.

Typically, physical therapy is prescribed during the rehabilitation process to promote healing, optimize recovery, and progress you towards your goals. Your healthcare team will collaborate with you during your recovery, and they will continue to monitor you, evaluate the healing process, and they will work with you to address any concerns or make any necessary changes to your plan as you move forward.

Is Hip Arthroscopy Right For you?

Professional athletes, recreational athletes, dancers, runners and many other young and active individuals commonly experience hip pain secondary to labral tears. Hip pain can be brought on gradually from a mechanical dysfunction or repetitive movement or can occur as a result of a trauma to the hip, like a sporting injury, fall or car accident. Common symptoms are deep groin and side pain, pain after sitting for long periods of time, catching or clicking in the hip joint, stiffness and limited range of motion in the hip joint, pain in the buttocks and low back, and pain that gets worse with increased activity.

In many instances, labral tears are caused by a condition known as femoroacetabular impingement, or FAI. The diagnosis of FAI is confirmed with X-rays. An MRI or MRI arthrogram can assess the condition of the labrum and joint cartilage.

A hip arthroscopy may or may not be right for you. People with certain conditions may be at risk for adverse effects, so it’s important to discuss the treatment options available to you with healthcare professionals whom you trust – they will be able to provide you with specific options fitted to your needs and goals.

Arthroscopic procedures are typically used to reduce pain and inflammation, which may
ultimately help you along in the rehabilitation process. With less pain, you may feel that you’re able to do more in your physical therapy sessions or get back to your daily activities with confidence.

If you have questions about hip arthroscopies and want to learn more, speak with your
healthcare provider to discuss the available options and determine the right route to recovery for you.

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