Hip arthroscopy is a minimally invasive procedure that is uses an arthroscope to examine, diagnose and treat problems of the hip joint and surrounding area. The procedure is performed using an arthroscope, which is a small camera with a light, to visualize the inside of the hip joint. The images are then reflected on a video monitor.
Unlike in open hip surgical procedures, hip arthroscopy requires very small incisions whereby the orthopaedic surgeon inserts the arthroscope and miniature surgical instruments to treat various conditions.
Advances in surgical equipment and surgical skills now allows surgeons to use minimally invasive arthroscopic techniques to treat injuries and conditions which previously have required invasive open surgical procedures.
Conditions Treated with Hip Arthroscopy
Some of the common hip conditions treated using hip arthroscopy include:
- Hip dysplasia: This is a condition whereby the hip socket is shallow
- Hip impingement: A condition that leads to osteoarthritis and limits range of motion
- Inflammation in the lining of the hip joint
- Labral tear repair
- Removal of loose cartilage fragments in the hip joint
- Infection of the hip joint
- Trochanteric Bursitis
- Pririformis Syndrome
- Shaving down painful bone spurs in the hip joint
- Allows the surgeon to pre-emptively treat conditions that cause osteoarthritis, thus, may be able to delay the onset of hip arthritis and delay the need for later hip replacement
Benefits of Hip Arthroscopy Over Open Surgery
Hip arthroscopy involves small incisions through which the surgeon introduces a small camera and surgical instruments if needed. In comparison to open surgery, these small incisions and instruments have various advantages including:
- Minimal trauma to the area
- Minimal pain
- Fewer complications and less risk of infection
- Faster recovery time
Before a hip arthroscopy procedure, the patient’s general health is assessed by a primary general practitioner in order to rule out any underlying conditions that may interfere with the procedure.
The patient is also requested to inform his/her surgeon of any medications they may be taking including supplements, as they may pose a risk during the procedure. He/she may be required to stop taking some of the medications. He/she will also be given certain instructions to follow before the procedure, as well as the details of the procedure.
The patient will also undergo an anaesthesia evaluation with the anaesthesia team to make sure he/she is not allergic the anaesthesia that is to be administered.
Hip Arthroscopy Procedure
Hip arthroscopy is usually a same day procedure which is performed under general or regional anaesthesia (whereby anaesthesia is delivered through the spine to numb the patient from the waist downwards). The procedure takes about 1.5 to 2 hours, but the duration of the surgery can vary depending on the type of intervention that is done as well as any underlying conditions.
During the procedure, the patient is placed on his back with the leg pulled in a traction position (hip pulled away from the socket). This makes it fairly easier for the surgical instruments to reach the target area without causing major trauma to the surrounding cartilage. And to ensure proper insertion of the instruments, including the arthroscope, a fluoroscope, which is a mobile x-ray device is used.
After the procedure, the incisions are sutured or closed with skin tape, and an absorbent gauze is used to cover the area. The patient stays in the recovery room for about two hours for observation before being released to go home. It is highly recommended that the patient, who will be on crutches or a walker, has a person to drive them home and take care of them for the first night after surgery.
After the procedure, it is completely normal to feel pain or discomfort. And to alleviate these, the patient will be prescribed pain medication. Aspirin to reduce the risk of blood clots may also be prescribed.
The patient may need crutches for 1 – 2 months for weight bearing and to allow for faster healing. Additionally, physical therapy may be necessary to speed up the recovery process.
Possible Complications of Hip Arthroscopy
Just like any other surgical procedure, hip arthroscopy may present some possible complications, although rare. These include:
- Temporary numbness in the groin area
- Anaesthesia problems
- Recurrent pain
- Deep vein thrombosis
- Delayed healing of the wound
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