The Basics of Hip Arthroscopy Surgery

Aug 12, 2021 | Articles

Regardless of whether the target of the procedure might be a shoulder, knee or hip joint, arthroscopy in surgery has been providing patients with a less radical alternative to the more traditional open surgical approach for several decades. An endoscope is a generic term for instruments first used to examine the interior structure of the body’s natural cavities, such as the bladder, upper digestive tract and respiratory tract. The cystoscope, gastroscope and bronchoscope are typical examples. However, it was not long before it became apparent that these devices could be equally effective when inserted via a surgical incision.

Common Practice Today

Since then, laparoscopy to examine the abdominal cavity has become a routine diagnostic procedure. Today, however, hip arthroscopy surgery is fast becoming a commonplace procedure, much like a laparoscopic appendectomy or cholecystectomy. When considering the more radical alternative of exposing the entire joint, there are several possible advantages when adopting the less invasive approach made possible by this invaluable addition to the orthopaedic surgeon’s toolkit.

In practice, orthopaedics was the last of the surgical disciplines to adopt this innovative technology. Though first employed for diagnostic purposes, its use as a minimally invasive alternative to open procedures has grown steadily as more and more specialists accept the potential patient benefits of hip arthroscopy surgery.

Early arthroscopes were little more than hollow tubes with lenses, an eyepiece and a light source. Hence, they were of value only for examination purposes. However, the introduction of fibre optics provided much-improved visibility. Later, with the addition of a miniature video camera that could relay full-colour magnified images to a large-screen monitor, the technology experienced a quantum leap. Together, these later refinements opened the way for significant advances in treating injured and diseased joints through knee, shoulder and hip arthroscopy surgery.

Reasons to Undergo This Procedure

There can be little doubt that the pinnacle of achievement for this technology has been its role in enabling minimally-invasive arthroplasty – removing damaged joint components and replacing them with metal and plastic or ceramic prostheses. In practice, the orthopaedic fraternity frequently cites these joint replacements as its most successful interventions to date. Nevertheless, for a surgeon with the necessary skills and experience, there are several equally compelling reasons to utilise hip arthroscopy surgery when treating other conditions that affect this joint.

Among the more common of these is femoroacetabular impingement or FAI. Bony outgrowths from the femoral head or acetabular socket cause loose bone and cartilage fragments causing pain and swelling. Inflammation of the synovial membrane, joint infections, dysplasia and snapping hip syndrome are among the other conditions for which the specialised orthopaedic team at the Wilgers Life Hospital in Pretoria offer hip arthroscopy surgery.