Arthroscopy, also referred to as keyhole or minimally invasive surgery, is a procedure in which an arthroscope is inserted into a joint to check for any damage and repair it simultaneously.
An arthroscope is a small, fibre-optic instrument consisting of a lens, light source and video camera. The camera projects an image of the inside of the joint onto a large monitor, allowing your surgeon to look for any damage, assess the type of injury and repair the problem.
Hip arthroscopy is a surgical procedure performed through very small incisions to diagnose and treat various hip conditions including:
- Removal of torn cartilage or bone chips that cause hip pain and immobility
- Repair a torn labrum, a fibrous cartilage ring that lines the acetabular socket
- Removal of bone spurs or extra bone growths caused by arthritis or an injury
- Removal of part of the inflamed synovium (lining of the joint) in patients with inflammatory arthritis
- Repair of fractures or torn ligaments caused by trauma
- Evaluation and diagnosis of conditions with unexplained pain, swelling or stiffness in the hip that does not respond to conservative treatment
Hip arthroscopy is performed under regional or general anaesthesia, depending on you and your surgeon’s preference.
Your surgeon will make 2 or 3 small incisions about 1/4 inch in length around the hip joint. Through one of the incisions an arthroscope is inserted. Along with it, a sterile solution is pumped into the joint to expand the joint area and create room for your surgeon to work.
The larger image on the television monitor allows your surgeon to visualise the joint directly, to determine the extent of damage so that it can be surgically treated.
Surgical instruments are inserted through other tiny incisions to treat the problem.
After the surgery, the incisions are closed and covered with a bandage.
The advantages of hip arthroscopy over the traditional open hip surgery include:
- Smaller incisions
- Minimal trauma to the surrounding ligaments, muscles and tissues
- Less pain
- Faster recovery
- Lower infection rate
- Less scarring
- Earlier mobilisation
- Shorter hospital stay
As with any surgery, there are potential risks and complications involved. It is very important that you are informed of these risks before you decide to proceed with hip arthroscopy surgery. The possible risks and complications include:
- Infection at the surgical incision site or in the joint space
- Nerve damage, which may cause numbness, tingling, pain and weakness
- Excess bleeding into the joint, a condition called haemarthrosis
- Blood clots that may form inside the deep veins of the legs, which can travel to the lungs (pulmonary embolism)
Your doctor may advise you to take certain precautions to promote faster recovery and prevent further complications. These include:
- Taking pain medications as prescribed
- The use of crutches, to prevent or limit bearing weight on the operated hip
- Physiotherapy exercises, to restore the normal hip function and improve flexibility and strength
- Eating a healthy diet and avoiding smoking, which will help in faster healing and recovery
- Avoiding activities that involve lifting heavy things or strenuous exercises for the first few weeks after surgery
With advances in surgical techniques, arthroscopy plays an important role in the diagnosis and treatment of hip diseases. Also, patients can anticipate a quicker recovery with less postoperative complications following hip arthroscopy surgery.