Hip arthroscopy

Hip arthroscopy is surgical treatment that allows your provider to diagnose and treat a wide range of hip conditions, using only small incisions plus a small camera and small, specialized tools.

The camera displays pictures on a video monitor, enabling your surgeon to guide tiny, specialized surgical instruments through additional small incisions. Arthroscopic hip surgery can relieve painful hip problems without traditional large incisions.

The advantages of arthroscopic hip surgery

There are many advantages to hip arthroscopy because the tools are thin and the incisions are very small. For patients this results in less pain, less joint stiffness and a quicker recovery time.

The risks are minimal and uncommon—possible injury to the surrounding nerves or blood vessels, infection and deep vein thrombosis (blood clots in the legs)—so arthroscopy is the preferred choice for our orthopedic surgeons whenever possible.

See a UCHealth specialist for expert treatment

If you’re experiencing a hip problem and nonsurgical treatments aren’t working, see a UCHealth orthopedic and sports medicine specialist to discuss if arthroscopic hip surgery is right for you.

Our specialists are very experienced in these leading-edge procedures and will work with you on the best treatment plan to help relieve your pain and get you back doing the activities you love.

Your orthopedic specialist may recommend hip arthroscopy if nonsurgical treatment isn’t working for a painful hip condition.

In addition to repairing labral tears, your surgeon can use hip arthroscopy to repair damage to articular cartilage or other soft tissues surrounding the hip joint from an injury or other orthopedic conditions, including:

  • Femoroacetabular impingement (FAI). Even if FAI doesn’t cause a labral tear, it can cause bone overgrowth called spurs that damages the soft tissues of the hip during movement. Sometimes bone spurs develop in both the acetabulum and femoral head.
  • Dysplasia. 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.
  • Synovitis. The tissues that surround the joint become inflamed.
  • Loose bodies. Fragments of bone or cartilage that become loose and move around within the hip joint.
  • Hip joint infection.

You will work with your orthopedic team on the right arthroscopic procedure for your case. You will most likely be put under general anesthesia, but regional anesthesia is also an option.

Your procedure will follow these basic steps:

  • Your leg will be put in traction so that your hip is pulled away from the socket far enough for your surgeon to work.
  • Your surgeon makes a small puncture in your hip for the arthroscope, and inserts it. Images from the arthroscope are projected on a video screen, allowing your surgeon to see and evaluate the inside of your hip and any problems.
  • Your surgeon makes other small incisions and inserts small, specialized instruments through them to perform repairs. A range of procedures can be done, depending on your needs, such as:
    • Smooth, shave or repair torn cartilage
    • Trim FAI bone spurs
    • Remove inflamed synovial tissue
    • Your surgeon stitches up the incisions, or applies skin tape, and covers them with an absorbent dressing.

Woman crouching among plantsYour personalized treatment plan will include your recovery, which will most likely include using crutches or a walker for a set period of time. Your plan will also cover pain management, medications and physical therapy to help you regain range of motion, and to achieve your desired long-term outcome.

Many of our patients return to a fully active and unrestricted life after arthroscopy. You might need to implement some lifestyle changes to protect your hip joint, like switching from high impact exercises to low impact activities.