Hip arthroscopy is a common surgical procedure that is carried out mostly to diagnose a problem, but at times also to perform a treatment.
It is a popular form of "keyhole surgery” which involves making a very small incision using special instruments. Throughout a hip arthroscopy, doctors are able to view the hip joint with the insertion of a small camera called an arthroscope.
This surgical method is often preferred because it generally causes less pain than “traditional” and invasive open surgery, while also speeding up the recovery process and minimizing the risk of infection.
A surgeon may suggest that you have a hip arthroscopy if you are suffering from persistent pain, swelling or stiffness which then results in limited hip movement or exercise. Usually, non-surgical treatments are offered first, such as medication or steroid injections.
A hip arthroscopy can relieve many orthopaedic conditions, including hip dysplasia, snapping hip syndrome and synovitis. The procedure can repair damaged cartilage or tendons, remove loose bone or cartilage fragments, drain excess fluid, smooth bone irregularities in the joint socket and lessen the pain for arthritis sufferers.
Arthroscopy is mostly carried out with the patient under general anaesthetic. A consultant will place an arthroscope through a small incision around your hip to examine the area. Other small incisions may be made to introduce instruments to remove fluid, diseased tissue or bone or to perform some procedures to the area.
The inside of the joint will be examined enabling your consultant to decide whether an operation is required to repair damage or remove loose material interfering with joint movement. Sometimes all that is needed is a 'clean up', where loose bone or cartilage are removed from the joint. In other cases, muscles, ligaments and tendons may need to be stitched together if they've been torn or damaged.
A hip arthroscopy is a relatively simple procedure, generally taking between one and two hours. Patients undergoing a hip arthroscopy will often be discharged from hospital within the same day. A physiotherapist will suggest certain exercises that can aid your recovery, to be completed each day.
Please note that you will not be able to drive yourself home after surgery.
It’s recommended that you take at least a week off work after undergoing a hip arthroscopy. After two to three weeks, you may be able to return to light physical activities, but you won’t be able to do any serious sporting activity or heavy lifting for several months. You will be given crutches to take home to assist with your mobility.