Hip arthroscopy is a minimally invasive procedure that allows a surgeon to examine and repair the hip joint using small incisions and a tiny camera. It has become more common for those needing hip surgery because it results in faster recovery and fewer complications than the open surgeries of the past. Repairs made through hip arthroscopy can delay or eliminate the need for a full hip replacement later.
Surgeons can perform several repairs using hip arthroscopy. They can also use it to diagnose problems by taking a closer look at the hip joint and determine whether a hip arthroscopy surgery can make the repairs or whether a full hip replacement will be needed.
Some of the more common hip arthroscopy procedures include treatment for hip impingement, labral tear repair, bone spur removal, inflamed joint lining removal, and loose cartilage removal.
Patients usually undergo general anesthesia or regional anesthesia, which numbs the patient from the waist down. The patient’s leg is then pulled in traction to create space in the hip joint for the surgical instruments to move and perform their functions. Small incisions are made for the surgical instruments and the camera, which gives the surgeon a close-up view of the hip joint. A portable x-ray may also be used during the procedure to get a broader view of the joint.
The surgeon injects the joint with a water-based solution to create a fluid pressure to hold the joint open and to reduce bleeding. The camera is then inserted to visualize the joint better, and the instruments are inserted through another incision.
The surgeon will look for needed repairs, such as loose cartilage, bone spurs, or a torn labrum (the cartilage around the hip socket).
Once the procedure is complete, the surgeon will close the incisions with dissolvable sutures and cover them with bandages. The patient may need to use crutches to keep weight off the hip joint for a week or two.
Recovery times from hip arthroscopy are shorter than with an open surgery. The patient may feel some pain after the surgery in the hip joint and possibly the knee from the traction. Fluid may remain in the hip for a few days after the surgery but will be absorbed by the body over time.
Patients experience some swelling, which should disappear after about a week. Full recovery time will depend on the type of procedure performed. In general, patients undergoing hip arthroscopy will do about six weeks of physical therapy and can make a full recovery in 3-6 months.