Hip arthroscopy

What is hip arthroscopy?

Hip arthroscopy is better known as "keyhole surgery" and allows your surgeon to look inside your hip joint through a camera inserted through a small cut in the skin. This allows a diagnosis of any problems and treatment using special designed surgical instruments - often at the same time. A hip arthroscopy is normally performed for the treatment of femoro-acetabular impingement (FAI) and/ or a hip labral tear.

What does hip arthroscopy surgery involve?

Hip arthroscopy surgery is often a day case procedure, or an overnight stay, and is usually carried out under general anaesthetic.

Your leg will be strapped down on the operating table with the hip joint open to allow the arthroscope to be introduced into the joint in the space between the ball and socket, through the cut made around the joint. An arthroscope is a small flexible tube about the length and width of a drinking straw which contains a light source and a digital camera that sends images to a video screen or your surgeon's eyepiece.

If treatment is required, then another cut in the skin is made which will allow specially designed instruments to be introduced into the joint to do any necessary work.

Hip arthroscopy recovery time

If you are admitted as a day case, you would normally be able to go home on the same day. Your physiotherapist may give you some exercises to help you get back to normal living.

Pain is not normally severe although it may take two to three months to return to any sports activity.

What risks should I know about?

A hip arthroscopy is a commonly performed and generally safe procedure but there are some potential complications you should be aware of.  These affect a very small percentage of patients.

  • Infection can occur although our theatres have ultra-clean air operating conditions keeping infection rates to the minimum.
  • Blood clots are possible and are more common in patients with some pre-existing medical conditions. However, again they affect a very small percentage of patients and have well established treatments including aspirin.
  • Very rarely, damage to the small nerves around the pelvis leading to numbness, pain and in some cases weakness in the affected leg and foot - this usually settles on its own. 
  • The hip joint remains stiff and painful. This may happen in individual cases, especially when there is significant arthritis in the hip joint.

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