Arthroscopy is a surgical procedure that gives your orthopaedic surgeon a clear view of the inside of a joint. This helps them diagnose and treat joint problems.
During hip arthroscopy, your surgeon inserts a small camera, called an arthroscope, into your hip joint. The camera displays pictures on a television screen, and your surgeon uses these images to guide miniature surgical instruments.
Hip arthroscopy has been performed for many years, but is not as common as knee or shoulder arthroscopy.
When Hip Arthroscopy is Recommended
Your doctor may recommend hip arthroscopy if you have a painful condition that does not respond to nonsurgical treatment. Nonsurgical treatment includes rest, physical therapy, and medications or injections that can reduce inflammation.
Inflammation is one of your body’s normal reactions to injury or disease. In an injured or diseased hip joint, inflammation causes swelling, pain, and stiffness.
Hip arthroscopy may relieve painful symptoms of many problems that damage the labrum, articular cartilage, or other soft tissues surrounding the joint. Although this damage can result from an injury, other orthopaedic conditions can lead to these problems, such as:
- Femoroacetabular impingement (FAI) is a disorder where bone spurs (bone overgrowth) around the socket or the femoral head cause damage.
- Dysplasia is a condition where the socket is abnormally shallow and makes the labrum more susceptible to tearing.
- Snapping hip syndromes cause a tendon to rub across the outside of the joint. This type of snapping or popping is often harmless and does not need treatment. In some cases, however, the tendon is damaged from the repeated rubbing.
- Synovitis causes the tissues that surround the joint to become inflamed.
- Loose bodies are fragments of bone or cartilage that become loose and move around within the joint.
- Hip joint infection
At the start of the procedure, your leg will be put in traction. This means that your hip will be pulled away from the socket enough for your surgeon to insert instruments, see the entire joint, and perform the treatments needed.
After traction is applied, your surgeon will make a small puncture in your hip (about the size of a buttonhole) for the arthroscope. Through the arthroscope, he or she can view the inside of your hip and identify damage.
Your surgeon will insert other instruments through separate incisions to treat the problem. A range of procedures can be done, depending on your needs.
For example, your surgeon can:
- Smooth off torn cartilage or repair it
- Trim bone spurs caused by FAI
- Remove inflamed synovial tissue
The length of the procedure will depend on what your surgeon finds and the amount of work to be done.