What Is Hip Arthroscopy and What Is It Used For?

Aug 31, 2020 | Articles

A Danish doctor, Severin Nordentoft, was the first person to describe using an arthroscope to obtain a view of the inside of a joint back in 1912. As you can well imagine, medical technology, knowledge, and procedures have evolved significantly in the interim. Today, arthroscopy provides medical experts with the opportunity to not only see the inside of joints of the human body, such as the hip, knee, and shoulder, but also to perform certain surgeries and procedures.

How It Works

Accessing the acetabulofemoral or hip joint during surgery used to be only possible via very invasive open surgery, making this a complicated procedure that required extensive recovery time. The advancement of arthroscopy has changed this scenario completely. Surgeons can now view the joint itself without the need for large incisions, leaving as much of the skin and soft tissue intact as possible.

This surgical procedure involves the insertion of a small camera into the joint. This minute camera is known as an arthroscope and contains very thin surgical instruments. The camera allows the surgeon to view the inside of the joint via a small incision, projecting the view on a monitor. This view can be used to inspect and diagnose the joint, or to perform small procedures using the miniature surgical instruments.

The Advantage of Hip Arthroscopy

The main benefit of hip arthroscopy is the fact that it is so much less invasive than open surgery. First and foremost, this means that the procedure generally poses less risks for the patient than is the case with open surgery. The smaller procedure also generally results in less pain for the patient, as less tissue is affected during the surgery. Patients have also reported less joint stiffness after arthroscopies compared to open surgeries.

With less pain, less tissue damage, and a smaller area that requires healing, patients generally also require a much shorter recovery time. This means that they regain their mobility faster and can return to their favourite activities sooner.

What Hip Arthroscopy Is Used For

Non-surgical interventions, such as anti-inflammatory medication or injections, physical therapy, or rest should preferably be the first choice of treatment. If the condition does not respond and the pain persists, surgery might be necessary. Hip arthroscopy can be useful in relieving symptoms related to damage to the cartilage, the labrum, or other soft tissue around the joint. This damage can potentially be caused by:

  • Injuries
  • Femoroacetabular impingement (FAI) – this disorder involves the development of extra bone, or spurs, in the joint area, which damages the surrounding soft tissue
  • Snapping hip syndrome – while mostly harmless, this condition can eventually cause damage to the tendon, which is running over the joint
  • Synovitis – the inflammation of the tissue around the joint
  • Dysplasia – this is when the joint socket is shallower than normal; the additional stress on the labrum to keep the femoral head in place makes the labrum more susceptible to damage
  • Loose bodies – this is the presence of cartilage or bone fragments moving around in the joint

For more information about hip arthroscopy, get in touch with the leading orthopaedic specialists in South Africa: Pretoria Hip, Knee & Shoulder Surgeons.