Hip Surgery, Orthopedic Surgery

August 8, 2022

Is Hip Arthroscopy Right for You?

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Arthroscopic hip surgery is an option for patients seeking minimally invasive surgery to restore hip function. An arthroscopic surgeon uses a small camera to view the hip joint, as well as instruments to remove bone fragments and correct any loose or worn parts.

What is Hip Arthroscopy?

Hip arthroscopy is a minimally invasive surgery that uses a special device to diagnose and treat hip conditions. The procedure involves inserting a thin tube, called an arthroscope, into the hip joint through a small incision in the skin. An arthroscope has a camera that displays images on a video monitor for the surgeon to review.

During an arthroscopic hip procedure, an orthopedic surgeon makes a small cut near the hip, inserts an arthroscope through the incision, and directs it toward the joint. The video monitor magnifies the interior view of the joint, allowing the surgeon to see any injuries, damage, or other abnormalities in the area.

Hip arthroscopy can be used to explore the cause of hip pain as well as to treat certain hip conditions at the same time. If a condition is treated at the time of the arthroscopy, the procedure typically takes one or two additional cuts in the hip bone and uses special surgical tools to treat the problem.

Who is a Candidate for Hip Arthroscopy?

Hip arthroscopy is generally recommended for patients who have suffered from sports injuries, overuse injuries, or abnormalities in the shape of the bones that make up the hip joint. For example, arthroscopy can help remove debris from the hip joint if cartilage has become damaged or if an injury has occurred. Hip arthroscopy is typically not an option for patients with osteoarthritis; however, it can be performed if other treatments fail to relieve pain caused by arthritis.

Your doctor will review your medical history, perform a physical exam, and examine findings from imaging test (X-rays, CT scans, or MRIs) when deciding whether this procedure is the best option for treating your condition. Hip arthroscopy may be an option if you’ve been diagnosed with, or your doctor suspects, the following issues:

  • Hip impingement. The irregular shapes of the bones in the hip can cause pinching between them, leading to pain. Arthroscopy can be used to reshape the bones.
  • Hip labral tear. A labral tear is a tear in the ring of cartilage that rims the hip socket. Arthroscopic surgery can be used to clean out damaged cartilage, repair the tear, and address underlying causes.
  • Bone spurs. Also called osteophytes, bone spurs can happen when the ends of bones rub against each other. Arthroscopy can be used to shave off the spurs and restore the smooth glide of the joint.
  • Synovitis. This is a condition in which inflammation leads to the thickening of the joint lining. Arthroscopy can be used to remove the inflamed tissue, diagnose and treat the underlying causes of the inflammation, and restore normal function of the joint.

Left untreated, these conditions may contribute to the development of hip arthritis over time. By performing hip arthroscopy, more hip surgeries can be avoided, and the need for a hip replacement may be delayed.

What Happens During Arthroscopic Hip Surgery?

Preparation

While it’s preferable to have been recently evaluated by your primary care physician, this is not always necessary. Anesthesiologists will assess your medical condition, determine the best type of anesthesia, and administer the medication. Hip arthroscopies can be performed under general anesthesia (meaning you are asleep during the procedure) or regional anesthesia (meaning you are awake, but your body is numb from the waist down).

Before the procedure, your surgeon will make sure that your leg is in the right place by attaching a traction device to your leg and hip. He will then mark your skin where the bone, nerves, and blood vessels are located and note where incisions will be made.

Incision & Insertion

Your surgeon will make a small incision in the skin around your affected hip joint. He will guide a needle through the skin and inject fluid into the joint to create pressure that keeps it open and accessible for surgery.

The surgeon uses the needle’s pathway to insert a guide wire and then a tube, through which the arthroscope is inserted. This method helps minimize damage to healthy tissues. As the arthroscope makes its way inside your hip, an image of the joint and the surrounding tissues appears on a video monitor, allowing your surgeon to identify problem areas.

Next, the surgeon inserts arthroscopic tools into the joint to remove or repair the problem. Once the issue is addressed, the surgeon closes the incisions using dissolvable sutures or surgical tape strips. As you recover from the anesthesia, your care team will monitor you in the recovery room.

Once the medical staff determines that you are ready to be released, you will be discharged from the hospital. You will be given a pair of crutches to help you avoid putting too much pressure on your hip. Because you won’t be allowed to put weight on your hip, you will need to arrange for someone to drive you home.

Recovering from Hip Arthroscopy

Your surgeon may recommend seeing a physical therapist to help you regain mobility and strength following your hip arthroscopy procedure. The therapist will instruct you on specific exercises you can do at home to stretch your hip, which will gradually make it easier to use your crutches. The therapist will also help determine when you can stop using crutches and start putting total weight on your hip.

The exercises will continue for six weeks or longer, depending on your activity level before and after the surgery. You will have a follow-up appointment with your surgeon to remove sutures as needed, as well as to discuss your pain levels and overall recovery goals and progress.

After surgery, you may feel hip pain on the side of the procedure for a short time. This area should feel better or return to normal within three to six months. To relieve pain during your recovery, your doctor may prescribe pain medications. Contact your doctor if your pain increases or feels like it’s sharp or stabbing.

After hip arthroscopy, you may feel or hear fluid moving in your joint. This is normal, and your body will absorb the liquid. As with any surgical operation that involves making incisions, you will develop small scars where the incisions were made.

Is Hip Arthroscopy Right for You?

Over the years, hip arthroscopy has reached new levels of surgical accuracy and has led to a better understanding of the joint’s inner workings. If you suffer from hip pain, it may be time to consult a specialist at Arkansas Surgical Hospital who can perform hip arthroscopy to diagnose and treat your condition. Request an appointment online or call (501) 748-8000 to schedule a consultation for your hip pain.

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