Hip arthroscopy is a surgical procedure that allows doctors to view the hip joint without making a large incision (cut) through the skin and other soft tissues. Arthroscopy is used to diagnose and treat a wide range of hip problems. During hip arthroscopy, your surgeon inserts a small camera, called an arthroscope, into your hip joint. The camera displays pictures on a video monitor, and your surgeon uses these images to guide miniature surgical instruments.
Because the arthroscope and surgical instruments are thin, your surgeon can use very small incisions, rather than the larger incision needed for open surgery. This results in less pain for patients, less joint stiffness, and often shortens the time it takes to recover and return to favorite activities.
Hip arthroscopy has been performed for many years, but is not as common as knee or shoulder arthroscopy.
The hip is a ball-and-socket joint. The socket is formed by the acetabulum, which is part of the large pelvis bone. The ball is the femoral head, which is the upper end of the femur (thighbone).
A slippery tissue called articular cartilage covers the surface of the ball and the socket. It creates a smooth, frictionless surface that helps the bones glide easily across each other.
The acetabulum is ringed by strong fibrocartilage called the labrum. The labrum forms a gasket around the socket.
The joint is surrounded by bands of tissue called ligaments. They form a capsule that holds the joint together. The undersurface of the capsule is lined by a thin membrane called the synovium. It produces synovial fluid that lubricates the hip joint.
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.
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, including:
- Femoroacetabular impingement (FAI) is a disorder in which extra bone develops along the acetabulum (pincer impingement) or on the femoral head (cam impingement). This bone overgrowth—called spurs—damages the soft tissues of the hip during movement. Sometimes bone spurs develop in both the acetabulum and femoral head.
- Dysplasia is a condition in which the hip socket is abnormally shallow. This puts more stress on the labrum to keep the femoral head within the socket, 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