Hip arthroscopy is surgery that is done by making small cuts around your hip and looking inside using a tiny camera. Other medical instruments may also be inserted to examine or treat your hip joint.
During arthroscopy of the hip, the surgeon uses a tiny camera called an arthroscope to see inside your hip.
- An arthroscope is made up of a tiny tube, a lens, and a light source. A small surgical cut is made to insert it into your body.
- The surgeon will look inside your hip joint for damage or disease.
- Other medical instruments may also be inserted through one or two other small surgical cuts. This allows the surgeon to treat or fix certain problems, if needed.
- Your surgeon may remove extra pieces of bone that are loose in your hip joint, or fix cartilage or other tissues that are damaged.
Spinal or epidural or general anesthesia will be used in most cases, so you will not feel pain. You may also be asleep or receive medicine to help you relax.
Why the Procedure is Performed
The most common reasons for hip arthroscopy are to:
- Remove small pieces of bone or cartilage that may be loose inside your hip joint and causing pain.
- Hip impingement syndrome (also called femoral-acetabular impingement, or FAI). This procedure is done when other treatment has not helped the condition.
- Repair a torn labrum (a tear in the cartilage that is attached to the rim of your hip socket bone).
- Repair of your hip tendons.
Less common reasons for hip arthroscopy are:
- Hip pain that does not go away and your doctor suspects a problem that hip arthroscopy can fix. Most of the time, your doctor will first inject numbing medicine into the hip to see if the pain goes away.
- Release of your hip tendons that may be snapping.
- Inflammation in the hip joint that is not responsive to nonoperative treatment.
If you do not have one of these problems, hip arthroscopy will probably not be useful for treating your hip arthritis.
The risks for any anesthesia and surgery are:
- Allergic reactions to medicines
- Breathing problems
Other risks from this surgery include:
- Bleeding into the hip joint
- Damage to the cartilage or ligaments in the hip
- Blood clot in the leg
- Injury to a blood vessel or nerve
- Infection in the hip joint
- Hip stiffness
- Numbness and tingling in the groin and thigh
- Hip fracture
Before the Procedure
Always tell your health care provider which medicines you are taking, even drugs, supplements, or herbs you bought without a prescription.
During the 2 weeks before your surgery:
- You may be asked to stop taking medicines that make it harder for your blood to clot. These include aspirin, ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), naproxen (Naprosyn, Aleve), blood thinners such as warfarin (Coumadin), and other medicines.
- Ask your provider which medicines you should still take on the day of your surgery.
- Tell your provider if you have been drinking a lot of alcohol, more than 1 or 2 drinks a day.
- If you smoke, try to stop. Ask your providers for help. Smoking can slow down wound and bone healing.
On the day of your surgery:
- You will most often be asked not to drink or eat anything for 6 to 12 hours before the procedure.
- Take the drugs you were told to take with a small sip of water.
- You will be told when to arrive at the hospital.
After the Procedure
Whether you fully recover after hip arthroscopy depends on what type of problem was treated.
If you also have arthritis in your hip, you will still have arthritis symptoms after hip surgery.
After surgery, you will need to use crutches for 2 to 6 weeks.
- During the first week, you should not place any weight on the side that had surgery.
- You will slowly be allowed to place more and more weight on the hip that had surgery after the first week.
- Make sure you check with your surgeon about when you will able to bear weight on your leg. The timeline on the amount of time it takes can vary depending on the type of procedure that was done.
Your surgeon will tell you when it is OK to return to work. Most people can go back to work within 1 to 2 weeks if they are able to sit most of the time.
You will be referred to physical therapy to begin an exercise program.
Arthroscopy - hip; Hip impingement syndrome - arthroscopy; Femoral-acetabular impingement - arthroscopy; FAI - arthroscopy; Labrum - arthroscopy
Harris JD. Hip arthroscopy. In: Miller MD, Thompson SR, eds. DeLee, Drez, & Miller's Orthopaedic Sports Medicine. 5th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2020:chap 79.
Mijares MR, Baraga MG. Basic arthroscopic principles. In: Miller MD, Thompson SR, eds. DeLee, Drez, & Miller's Orthopaedic Sports Medicine. 5th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2020:chap 8.
Review Date 7/28/2021
Updated by: C. Benjamin Ma, MD, Professor, Chief, Sports Medicine and Shoulder Service, UCSF Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, San Francisco, CA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.