Hip arthroscopy is a minimally invasive surgery that can be used to diagnose as well as treat hip joint issues or problems in the soft tissues near the hip, such as a labral tear.

In the past, labral tears and other hip conditions were treated using more invasive hip surgery, which often led to a longer recovery and, sometimes, complications. But today—using minimally invasive arthroscopic surgical equipment and techniques—a doctor can perform hip arthroscopy and the patient can go home the same day. Patients often notice their hip pain diminishes quickly. 

During the hip arthroscopy procedure itself, the surgeon will begin by making several small incisions near the treatment area. These pencil-sized openings are then used during surgery to insert an arthroscope (instrument with a tiny camera) and tiny surgical tools as needed.

Compared to open surgical procedures used more frequently in the past instead of hip arthroscopy, the smaller incisions and tools used during arthroscopy cause less disruption to the hip joint and nearby tissues and often result in:

  • Less hip pain 
  • Less risk of infection
  • Minimal scarring
  • Shorter recovery time

The benefits that come with this hip surgery mean hip problems can be addressed sooner rather than later. In fact, using arthroscopy can sometimes delay the onset of hip arthritis. Hip arthroscopy can also eliminate or delay the need for hip replacement later. The process used to avoid the onset of osteoarthritis and the need for a hip replacement procedure like total hip replacement is called hip preservation.

Examples of Hip Conditions Treated

If a patient has a hip condition that has not responded to nonsurgical treatment, a doctor may recommend hip arthroscopy. This surgery may be used as treatment for hip problems such as:

  • Cartilage damage: Most cartilage injuries that happen in the hip cause damage to the hip socket (called the acetabulum). However, the ball (femoral head) of the hip joint can also be damaged.
  • Cartilage fragments: Sometimes damage from osteoarthritis or trauma causes fragments of cartilage to break off and become trapped in the hip joint.
  • Femoroacetabular impingement: Femoroacetabular impingement is a hip syndrome that causes excess bone to grow in the hip joint. This causes the bones to form an irregular shape. 
    • If the impingement is in the ball part of the joint, the condition is called cam impingement
    • If it is in the socket, it is called pincer impingement
    • Both cam-type and pincer-type can cause significant pain. That's because the bones rub together unnaturally due to the irregular shape of the bone.
  • Labral tears: The labrum is a ring of cartilage in the hip joint. Two of the surgical procedures a doctor may use to treat damage to the labrum are called labral repair and labral reconstruction.

Steps to Hip Arthroscopy Surgery

Many hip arthroscopy procedures take about an hour and a half to two hours to perform. However, the length of time needed to perform hip arthroscopy depends on the type of procedure being performed. 

  1. A patient is given anesthesia (usually general anesthesia, which means the patient will be asleep).
  2. The leg being treated is put in traction. This means the leg will be slightly stretched so the ball-and-socket hip joint will be pulled slightly apart. Doing this gives the surgeon enough room to insert the arthroscopic instruments, see the entire joint, and treat the hip problem.
  3. The surgeon will also use a type of X-ray machine to help view the area and guide the instruments into the hip joint. Fluid (sterile saline water) will also be used to fill up the joint space so it is easier for the surgeon to see.
  4. Once these steps have been taken, the surgeon will insert the small arthroscopic instruments through the incisions to begin the actual repair work.

Exceptional Care at University Orthopedic Surgeons

Our years of experience and advanced training devoted to the care of orthopedic issues make us who we are, but our compassionate care of our patients is what makes us dedicated to you. 

Our arthroscopic hip surgeons at University Orthopedic Surgeons, Dr. William Oros and Dr. Michael Kern, are here to improve the health and well-being of our community, treating patients dealing with the full range of bone conditions. They are also committed to staying up to date on new treatment advances so they can offer the very best to patients.

Our arthroscopic hip doctors are fully equipped to perform hip arthroscopy, whether it is needed due to damaged caused by a labral tear, osteoarthritis, trauma, or another condition. Our hip arthroscopy doctors are supported by our entire team of highly experienced nurses and other clinical staff, backed by our state-of-the-art orthopedic facility.

Since we understand managing your hip pain and navigating your appointments and care can be challenging, we remain committed to providing you with the orthopedic care you need to receive your hip arthroscopy. We'll support you through your pre-op preparation and the hip arthroscopy procedure itself. Then we'll monitor your post-op recovery as you undergo rehabilitation with physical therapy. Combined, these things will help you experience a better quality of life than you had prior to your surgery.

To consult with one of our hip arthroscopy surgeons, please request an appointment online or call (865) 546-2663 for our UT Medical Center and Sevierville offices or (865) 218-9300 for our West Knoxville office.