How is Arthroscopic Hip Surgery Different?

ArthroscopyArthroscopy (also called Arthroscopic surgery) is a surgical procedure by which the internal structure of a joint is examined for diagnosis (and possibly treated) using an instrument called an arthroscope. Arthroscopy gives doctors a clear view of the inside of a joint, and helps them diagnose and treat joint problems. Hip arthroscopy has been slower to evolve than arthroscopy of other joints such as the knee or shoulder, mostly because the hip joint is much deeper in the body and therefore harder to access, but can be very effective at treating certain hip conditions.

Arthroscopic hip surgery is radically different than traditional open surgery, and may be considered before one opts for a full hip replacement surgery. Non-operative measures should always be considered first — rest, behavior modification, physical therapy and anti-inflammatories may work to alleviate reversible disorders. If non-operative measures aren’t effective and you do elect for surgery, a procedure may be done arthroscopically instead of by traditional surgical techniques, as it usually causes less tissue trauma, may result in less pain, and may promote a quicker recovery.

How does it work?

At the start of the procedure, the leg is put into what is called “traction.” Your hip will be pulled away from the socket to effectively distract the joint under anesthesia and temporarily open the socket enough for your surgeon to insert instruments without damaging the labrum and cartilage, see the entire joint, and perform the treatments needed. The instruments are inserted through two tiny skin incisions, but occasionally a third or fourth incision may be required depending upon the procedure. Once the instruments are inserted, a range of procedures can be done, depending on your needs. For example, your surgeon can:

  • Smooth off torn cartilage or repair it
  • Trim bone spurs caused by impingement (FAI)
  • Remove inflamed synovial tissue

There are lots of advantages to opting for arthroscopic surgery over traditional hip replacement surgery. Some of them include:

  • Much smaller incisions are made.
  • It typically is performed as an outpatient procedure
  • It fosters earlier and accelerated rehab
  • It allows many patients to return to normal activity faster than a tradition, open incision procedure.

Who is a candidate for arthroscopic hip surgery?

Typically the surgery is selected for active individuals who have painful hips or instability in their hips, where there exists an opportunity to preserve the amount of cartilage they still have. A history, physical exam and X-ray can help determine if someone is a candidate. Often arthroscopic hip surgery can be used to effectively treat the following conditions:

  • Labral tear
  • Impingement
  • Loose bodies
  • Synovitis
  • Cartilage damage

Next steps:
So if you’ve been dealing with any of these maladies and the prospect of less invasive surgery with minimal recovery time is appealing to you, arthroscopic hip surgery may be worth exploring. The decision to have arthroscopic hip surgery should be well thought out and you should consult your family, your primary care doctor, and your orthopaedic surgeon. You should also plan to take the appropriate amount of time after your surgery for wound care, recovery and physical therapy.

About Dr. Hammond

Kyle Hammond, MDKyle Hammond, MD, is an orthopaedic surgeon with the Department of Orthopaedics at Emory and is a Team physician for Georgia Tech, Emory University, and Northview High School. Dr. Hammond spent his childhood in Johns Creek, GA and graduated from Chattahoochee High School before attending the University of Georgia. Dr. Hammond completed his Orthopaedic Surgery Internship and Residency at Emory University. While in his training, Dr. Hammond received the “Outstanding Resident Award,” and was twice the 1st runner-up in the Kelly Society’s Annual Research Award. In 2011 and 2012, Dr. Hammond’s research on the Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL Surgery) won the 1st place Award for Research at the Annual Southern Orthopaedic Association and Georgia Orthopaedic Association meetings. He completed his fellowship at the University of Pittsburgh Sports Medicine Center. While at the University of Pittsburgh he was the Associate Head Team Orthopaedic Surgeon for both the Duquesne University Football team and the University of Pittsburgh Men’s Basketball team. He also worked as a Team Physician for the Pittsburgh Steelers, the Pittsburgh Penguins, the University of Pittsburgh athletics, Robert Morris College athletics, as well as the Pittsburgh Ballet.

Dr. Hammond sees patients at Emory Johns Creek Hospital, the “new” Emory Dunwoody clinic, as well as Emory Orthopaedics & Spine Center in Atlanta. Dr. Hammond has a special interest in the overhead/throwing athlete, ligament injuries to the knee, Tommy John surgery, joint preservation surgery, and is one of the few fellowship trained hip arthroscopists and concussion specialists in Georgia.

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