Hip arthroscopy is a surgical procedure in which the hip joint is viewed using a small high definition camera. This allows the diagnosis and treatment of a range of hip conditions including: removal of loose bodies, evaluate and treat articular surface damage, remove torn portions of the labrum, treat snapping hip syndrome and early arthritis. However, patients with advanced osteoarthritic changes in the hip joint generally do not benefit from arthroscopic hip surgery.
Hip arthroscopy is much less invasive than traditional hip surgery. This means:
Before any surgical intervention the use of specialist imaging is essential to gain as much diagnostic information as possible. This may include plain radiographs (X-rays), MRI scans (sometimes with an injection of contrast into the hip joint), ultrasound scans, and CT scans of the bone.
Imaging techniques are very good but not infallible. No abnormality seen does not mean no abnormality present. In some cases open hip surgery may be needed as an adjunct to arthroscopic surgery. Recovery time following open surgery may be longer.
Arthroscopy is performed through small incisions (about 1cm each). A camera will be inserted into one incision to visualise the inside of the joint and small surgical instruments through the other incisions. Traction is applied to the leg to achieve a good exposure of the joint.
The surgery usually takes approximately 2 hours to complete and is usually carried out under general anaesthesia. You will be an in-patient for 2 nights. Prior to surgery Mr Jennings will discuss your treatment and recovery.
In the first weeks after surgery, patients work on regaining motion around the joint and gentle strengthening exercises. Typically patients work with a physical therapist for assistance with these exercises and stretches.
Patients are advised to take two weeks off work, but clearly there can be variation between individuals and types of work. Some patients may be able to work from home in some capacity. During the first two weeks following surgery patients should not do any work at all so that there are no distractions from recovery. Some work from home may be reasonable in the second week. The hip will feel comfortable for day to day activities after four to six weeks and a full recovery will be determined by the surgery carried out and the required level of activity.
Most patients can begin light activities (cycling, swimming) within a few weeks. Athletes most often take about 16 weeks to recover. Again, there are specific procedures that may require a more lengthen rehabilitation (Mr Jennings will advise following the arthroscopy). It will clearly takes less time to recover sufficiently to play golf compared with competing in a marathon. As a general indication running and team sports are possible after 4 to 6 months.
Return to driving takes approximately 4 weeks depending upon the procedure carried out and discomfort experienced. Always check with your car insurance company before getting back on the road. It is important that in an emergency you are able to stop the car safely.