To begin, let us understand what the process of arthroscopy entails – read the article on Hip Arthroscopy Explained


Arthroscopy is the examination of the interior of a joint by using an arthroscope or “scope” – a flexible, fibre-optic tube with a small camera that is connected to a monitor. This allows a surgeon to see a magnified view of your joint. Specially designed arthroscopic surgical tools are also used to perform different types of minimally invasive joint surgery.

If you have a hip problem, then Hip Arthroscopy may be a great way of identifying what is causing the pain without the need for complex surgery. It is used to take a closer look inside your joints, such as your knee or your hip. Arthroscopy of the hip joint was refined in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Since then, the development of advanced arthroscopic surgical equipment has allowed orthopaedic surgeons to treat conditions that were previously untreatable or which required more invasive, open procedures. The main condition treated by hip arthroscopy is ‘hip impingement’. This is a pre-arthritis condition and hip arthroscopy aims to improve your pain and delay or stop the progression to arthritis.

sidepic_red_jointHip arthroscopy, sometimes called a “hip scope,” is a minimally invasive procedure in which an orthopaedic surgeon uses an arthroscope to examine the inside of the hip joint.

This procedure allows the surgeon to diagnose the cause of hip pain or other problems in your joint. Some hip conditions may also be treated arthroscopically. To perform arthroscopic hip surgery in these cases, the surgeon makes additional small incisions (usually one or two) to create access points for various arthroscopic needles, scalpels or other special surgical tools.

Which hip conditions can be treated arthroscopically?

Common injuries and conditions that can be fixed with arthroscopic hip surgery are:

  • hip impingement (femoroacetabular impingement), which limits range of motion and is a major cause of osteoarthritis
  • repair or trimming of a labral tear, where a specialized cartilage called the labrum, which lines the hip socket becomes torn
  • removal of:
    • loose fragments of cartilage inside the joint (which are usually caused by an injury, such as a torn labrum)
    • diseased or inflamed joint lining
    • painful bone spurs

Dr Smith mastered the technique of hip arthroscopy by attending various local and international workshops. Hip arthroscopy is a form of hip preservation surgery where certain intra-articular pathology may lead to the development of hip osteoarthritis in the younger patient. Many intra-articular pathologies, for instance labral tears and femoro-acetabular (FAI) impingement can be fixed during arthroscopy surgery. Peri-trochanteric problems e.g. trochanteric bursitis or abductor tears may be treated and repair with a hip arthroscopy where conservative management failed.




Dr Peter Smith, Mediclinic Milnerton, Cape Town

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