Hip arthroscopy is a surgical procedure used by surgeons and orthopedic specialists to view the hip joint for diagnosis and possible treatment. All without having to make a large incision in the skin of the hip. It is far less invasive than open surgery and has much less impact on other surrounding soft tissues.
The severity of your symptoms will play an important role in both diagnosing and treating your hip problem. This usually starts with your primary physician conducting a comprehensive physical exam. Be sure to tell them about all your symptoms, the severity, and how you feel different conditions can affect your discomfort.
Your physician will move forward with some physical tests to determine things like your current range of motion, and general flexibility. Be sure to let them know if certain movements of motions hurt more than others.
They will also need to update your medical history to help assess if there might other factors that might be contributing to your symptoms. Be sure to let them know about any past injuries or chronic health conditions. Also, let them know about any medications you are taking or dietary restrictions that might influence your overall health. This might come into play if they decide to prescribe anti-inflammatory or pain medications.
With some hip problems and hip injuries where medications and physical therapy have failed to provide sufficient relief, your physician might refer you for more advanced treatment such as arthroscopic surgery.
How Is Hip Arthroscopy Performed?
Hip arthroscopy is usually performed on an outpatient basis. The level of anesthesia your surgeon recommends will be based on your comfort needs and preferences. Once you are comfortable your surgeon will start the hip arthroscopy by making a small incision near the hip joint and inserting a small camera, called an arthroscope.
This surgical-grade camera uses state-of-the-art fiber optics to illuminate and display pictures on a video monitor. Your surgeon uses these images to guide miniature surgical instruments.
Since the arthroscope and surgical instruments are thin, the arthroscopic surgeon can use very small incisions. They are less invasive than open surgery incisions and will heal rapidly. There is also less chance of significant post-operative inflammation.
Hip Arthroscopy For Surgical Treatment
Sometimes hip arthroscopy is used strictly for diagnostic purposes. It helps an orthopedic surgeon to better assess the tissues and structures in the affected joint. Though in some cases the arthroscopic procedure can also be used for surgical treatment.
If arthroscopic surgery is indicated, your surgeon will need to make a separate incision. This will be used to insert surgical tools that can make minor alterations in soft tissues and cartilage.
Conditions that can be treated by hip Arthroscopy include:
Femoroacetabular Impingement (FAI)
This is a disorder where extra bone develops along the acetabulum or on the femoral head within the hip joint. These bone spurs can damage the surrounding soft tissues of the hip, and can often be removed via hip arthroscopy.
This is a condition where the individual’s hip socket is abnormally shallow, which places increased stress on the labrum to keep the femoral head within the socket itself. In the time it makes the labrum more susceptible to tearing, which can require more significant surgery. Being able to make minor edits in the hip joint with arthroscopic surgery reduces the potential need for more invasive procedures in the future.
Snapping Hip Syndrome
In some individuals, there’s a tendon in the hip that starts to rub across the outside of the joint. The occasionally snapping or popping they experience often starts out as harmless and doesn’t need surgical treatment.
Though it can worsen over the long term. Sometimes the tendon is damaged from repeated rubbing. In a lot of these cases hip arthroscopy can be used to diagnose the severity of the problem, and perhaps treat the affected tissues at the same time.
This is an inflammatory condition that affects the tissues that surround the hip joint. Arthroscopic surgery can often be used to assess how the surrounding tissues and structures are affected. This can play a critical role in developing an effective treatment plan.
With femoroacetabular impingement, bone tissue grows abnormally around the hip socket. There are two forms of this impingement, known as pincer impingement or femoral head “Cam Impingement.”
In many of these cases, Hip Arthroscopy can be used to trim the excess bone tissue. This might provide relief or help to further diagnose additional treatment measures that may need to be performed in the future.
Preparing For Hip Arthroscopy
Most of the time, hip arthroscopy is performed as an outpatient procedure, and you will not need to stay overnight in the hospital. Be sure to let your surgeon know about any medications or supplements you are taking. You may need to stop taking some of these before surgery.
They will provide you with any other specific details about preparing for your procedure. Be sure to follow the instructions on when to arrive and especially on when to stop eating or drinking prior to your procedure.
Hip arthroscopy is most commonly performed under general anesthesia, where you go to sleep for the duration of the procedure. Though you will be able to go home afterward.
How Is Hip Arthroscopy Performed
Your leg will need to be put in traction at the start of the hip arthroscopy. This involves your hip being pulled away from the socket enough that the surgeon can seamlessly insert instruments into the incision sites.
Typically, there are two small incisions. The first is to provide access to the fiber optic arthroscope. The second is to provide access to small, precision surgical tools that will manipulate and edit the necessary tissues.
The duration of the arthroscopic procedure will depend on what the surgeon finds in your hip as well as the amount of work that needs to be done. Once completed the hip arthroscopy incisions are usually stitched or covered with skin tape before an absorbent dressing is applied to the surgical site.
Recovering From Hip Arthroscopy
Recovering after hip arthroscopy is usually short. Certainly, much shorter than a more invasive open surgical procedure. Your surgeon will likely give you a short-term prescription for pain and anti-inflammatory medications.
Depending on the amount of surgical alteration done during the hip arthroscopy, your surgeon might also recommend a few weeks of physical therapy. The recovery strategy will be customized to your condition and treatment plan.