Arthroscopy is a type of keyhole surgery used to diagnose and treat joint problems. A small telescope (arthroscope), which is about the width of a drinking straw, is inserted into the hip. The addition of a light source and a camera allows the surgeon to view the inside of the joint and treat a range of problems using special slender instruments. The surgeon views images from the camera on a television monitor in the operating theatre.
Although the specialists at Fortius have great expertise and experience of hip arthroscopy, in general it is performed less commonly than knee or shoulder arthroscopy because the hip is less prone to injury.
Which hip procedures are performed with arthroscopy?
Arthoscopy is often performed when non-operative treatments haven’t worked to relieve your symptoms. Procedures where it is commonly used include:
- Labral tears
- Femoral acetabular impingement (FAI)
- Loose fragments of bone or cartilage
- Snapping hip
- Some cases of hip dysplasia or osteoarthritis
What does it involve?
Arthroscopy is usually performed as day-case surgery under a general anaesthetic. During the procedure, the surgeon makes two, three or four incisions (cuts), each the size of a shirt button hole, for the arthroscope and surgical instruments.
What are the advantages of arthroscopy?
- There is no cutting of muscles or tendons
- There is less bleeding during surgery
- The scar over the operation site is smaller than with conventional surgery. This helps with healing, as well as reducing permanent scarring
- The length of your hospital stay is likely to be shorter because the procedure is less invasive
- The healing and rehabilitation time can be shorter
What are the disadvantages of arthroscopy?
As with any surgery, there is a risk of damage to nerves and blood vessels and arthroscopy isn’t suitable for everyone or for every procedure. You may have some temporary bruising, swelling or ‘clicking’ and you may also have temporary numbness or soreness in your foot or thigh. These symptoms should gradually improve over a few weeks.
How long does it take to recover?
Recovery depends on the reason for your arthroscopy but you’ll have a chance to discuss this before your procedure.
Everyone is different, so healing and post-operative programmes vary from person to person. However, the schedule of follow-up appointments below is typical:
- Two weeks - your wound will be checked and any stitches removed
- 12 weeks – final appointment and discharge
- You’ll also be asked to complete short outcome questionnaires 6 and 12 months after surgery
When can I drive?
The DVLA states that it’s the responsibility of the driver to ensure they are always in control of the vehicle. A good guide is if you can stamp down hard with the foot to stop the car during an emergency stop. It is usually a couple of weeks which coincides with the end of crutch use.
Although your specialist will be able to advise you about when it’s safe to start driving again, it is your own responsibility to drive safely and you should also check with your vehicle insurer to confirm you are covered.
Important: This information is only a guideline to help you understand your treatment and what to expect. Every person is different and your rehabilitation may be quicker or slower than other people’s. Please contact us for advice if you are worried about any aspect of your health or recovery.