What is hip arthroscopy?

A surgical procedure called arthroscopy is often performed on the soft tissue which surrounds the joint. It is minimally invasive procedure and can serve to delay more invasive surgery. In cases where the dysplasia is relatively non-advanced, arthroscopy sometimes can rule out the need for further surgery. The procedure is relatively fast and often the patient goes home the same day.

Patients requiring an osteotomy or a replacement/resurfacing procedure, arthroscopy can address painful soft tissue conditions and can greatly improve the health of the hip. Conditions that arthroscopy may help include:

  • Loose bodies: In an arthritic joint, the previously smooth surface of the cartilage cracks, and pieces of cartilage can snap off and float in the joint. These loose bodies can cause the joint to catch and can also scratch the still-smooth cartilage
  • Torn labrum: The thick rim of cartilage around the socket sometimes tears and flips itself into the joint, which scratches the cartilage. Arthroscopy can trim the labral tear and stop potential damage to the cartilage.
  • Synovitis: The synovial membrane, which is a lubricating layer of tissue, can become inflamed and can cause disabling pain, requiring its removal. Arthroscopy can remove portions of the synovium, but is not capable of removing the entire synovium.

Arthroscopy of the hip is minimally invasive surgery performed by inserting a camera (the arthroscope) through a small incision to visualize the inside of the hip. Another small incision is made which allows the surgeon to move instruments in and out of the hip. Hip arthroscopy is typically performed for problems such as a tear of the labrum or hip impingement. Significant arthritis of the hip is generally not treated with hip arthroscopy.

Arthoscopic (minimally invasive) surgery is performed within the hip joint through small incisions, using an arthroscope (camera) to visualize the structures within. Arthroscopic procedures are often done on an outpatient basis. Arthroscopy often can be used for many procedures including repairing the labrum (the cartilage lining the socket of the hip joint), treating femoracetabular impingement, (FAI), snapping hip syndrome and repairing of the gluteus medius/minimus tendon(s).

Dr. Vonda Wright, MD
Orthopedic Surgeon

Hip arthroscopy is surgery of the hip using tiny 1cm portals, a 70 degree camera and small instruments. The surgery appears small on the outside but we are able to perform complex procedures on the inside.

Common problems treated by hip arthroscopy include hip labrum debridement and repair, iliopsoas (hip flexor) lengthening for internal hip popping, osteoplasty of the acetabular pincer lesion (cutting the overhanging bone off the hip cup), femoral CAM osteoplasty (cutting the bone bump off the femur) both to treat femoroacetabular impingement, IT band lengthening, removal of loose bodies, cartilage microplasty, gluteus medius (butt tendon) repair and the list grows as we continue to develop these techniques.

Symptoms of hip joint problems include pain, pinching, mechanical clicking or aching located in the groin.

If you suspect you have hip joint problems that might require hip arthroscopy it is best to seek care from an orthopaedic surgeon who performs more than 50 per year as the surgery is technically difficult.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.