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Hip Arthroscopy

Alternative name: Hip Arthroscopy, Arthroscopic Surgery of the Hip

What is a hip arthroscopy?

A hip arthroscopy is a surgical procedure that allows an orthopaedic surgeon to diagnose and treat certain hip disorders by providing a clear view of the inside of the hip. After making small incisions (cuts), using a pencil-sized instrument called an arthroscope, the surgeon can see an image of your hip that is transmitted through a small camera, via optic fibers, to a television monitor. The TV image allows the surgeon to examine the interior of your hip and determine the source of your problem. During the procedure, the surgeon can also insert surgical instruments through other small incisions in your hip to remove or repair damaged tissues.

Why would a doctor recommend a hip arthroscopy?

The most common conditions that lend themselves to hip arthroscopy are removal of loose bodies, and the removal of torn or loose portions of the hip cartilage or labrum. Patients who may benefit from hip arthroscopy are identified with a combination of clinical history, physical examination, X-rays and often a magnetic resonance (MRI) scan of the hip.

What does a hip arthroscopy involve?

Hip arthroscopy is generally performed as an outpatient procedure, and patients are allowed to put full weight on the leg immediately after surgery. Recovery of function after hip arthroscopy occurs over the weeks and even months after the procedure. The eventual degree of symptom improvement varies, and may depend on the degree of cartilage damage inside the joint. It is important to understand that only certain types of hip conditions are amenable to arthroscopic surgery. For instance, in patients who have severe loss of hip joint cartilage, a more extensive procedure such as total hip replacement may be required.

How long is the recovery after hip arthroscopy surgery?

After surgery you will be given advice about caring for stitches and bathing. A physical therapist will also talk with you about getting the joint moving and will discuss exercising at home.

Once home, it may be necessary to continue taking painkillers as advised by the nursing or medical staff. The joint is likely to be sore, so anyone who has this operation needs to be prepared to take it easy for at least a few days and avoid any strenuous exercise, lifting, or carrying. Driving should be avoided for the first 48 hours.

Exercises recommended by the physical therapist are a crucial part of the recovery process, so it is essential to continue with them as directed. There may be some discomfort from the joint, and some swelling, for around two weeks after surgery. This can last longer if the treatment has been for arthritis. Most people are able to return to work two to three days after hip arthroscopy, although it may be longer if their job involves bending, lifting, or carrying.

It is usually possible to go back to physical activities or sports after around three weeks. The surgeon will provide more advice about this in each individual case.

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