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What Is a Hip Arthroscopy Procedure?

A hip arthroscopy is a minimally invasive surgery that allows your doctor to see what is happening inside your joint and repair any damage at the same time.

In this procedure, your doctor will make an incision in your hip (about the size of a buttonhole) to insert a small camera into the joint. This camera, also called an arthroscope, will project an image of the inside of your hip onto a screen so your doctor can look for damage and assess the injury or condition. Then, surgical instruments can be inserted through another small incision to:

  • reshape the bones in your hip joint;
  • remove torn cartilage, excess bone growth, or inflamed tissue; or
  • repair fractures or tears.

Find a Hip Arthroscopy Specialist

What Hip Arthroscopy Treats

Specialists recommend an arthroscopy for patients who have symptoms that don’t improve with non-surgical treatments, like rest, medication, or physical therapy. These symptoms could include:

What to Expect: Day of Procedure

The day of your procedure, you can choose to receive either general anesthesia (meaning that you will be unconscious during the procedure) or regional anesthesia (meaning that you will be numb from the waist down, so you won't feel any pain). Talk to your doctor about what option is best for you.

Next, you'll be prepared for the procedure to begin. Your leg will be put in traction by pulling it away from your hip so that the joint opens up and creates enough space for your surgeon to perform the procedure. Then, your surgeon will make marks on your hip to indicate where the incisions will be made.

Your doctor will make a small incision for the arthroscope and a sterile fluid will be pumped into the joint to expand the area. Then, your doctor will insert the arthroscope and use it to evaluate your hip joint before making the additional incisions needed to treat it.

After your doctor has looked at your joint using the arthroscope, he or she will make other small incisions as needed to insert surgical tools and treat the problem. Once the procedure is finished, the incisions will be closed up using one or two stitches or small bandages.

Hip Arthroscopy Recovery

Because the procedure only requires two or three small incisions, recovery from a hip arthroscopy is much faster than other types of open hip surgery. There is also a smaller risk of infection and less scarring.

You should be able to return home a few hours after your procedure, but you'll need to take some precautions to avoid any complications during your recovery.

  • Plan on using crutches for one to two weeks after your surgery to avoid putting too much weight on your joint.
  • Use the pain medication your doctor prescribes for you as needed during your recovery.
  • Rest, ice, and elevate your leg to help manage any pain or swelling.
  • Avoid swimming or taking a bath for two weeks to prevent infection in the incision sites.
  • Eat a healthy diet and avoid smoking to make sure your body is able to recover as quickly as possible.
  • Do physical therapy exercises to help you restore mobility and strength in your hip.

It will most likely take two to three weeks for you to fully recover after the procedure, but everyone's recovery process is different. Call your doctor if you experience severe pain, redness, or fever, or if you have any questions about your surgery, medications, or recovery.

Walking after Hip Arthroscopy

Your surgeon will let you know how soon you can expect to walk after your surgery. With the vast majority of hip arthroscopies, you can begin to walk on your hip as soon as you feel able. It's a good idea to use crutches if you are limping, especially due to pain. Unless you are specifically told by your surgeon to avoid any weight on the hip, you will not damage the surgery by walking. However, it could increase your pain as you begin to put weight on the hip.

Follow-Up Appointment

You will have multiple follow-up visits after your surgery to check your progress and address any concerns you have. These visits are typically spaced out over a 6-month time period. In addition, X-rays are taken after surgery to evaluate your joint and check for any complications. These X-rays are also helpful because if anything should happen to your hip in the future, your doctor will have a baseline of what your hip looked like shortly after surgery. This helps rule out potential issues after hip surgery.

Picture of Blair Cruikshank

Hear From Our Patients

National champion speed skater, Blair Cruikshank, started experiencing persistent, worsening hip pain that interfered with her training. After she was diagnosed with femoroacetabular impingement syndrome (FAI), she and her family sought treatment for her condition at the Hip Preservation Program. Today she is back on the ice at full speed after undergoing a successful hip arthroscopy procedure.

Next Steps

If you are suffering from hip pain or would like to be evaluated by a specialist, call 801-587-7109 to request an appointment.