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Hip Arthroscopy: Repairing Chondral Damage

Cross section of hip joint with femoral head moved out of socket. Part of cartilage lining socket is damaged.

Cross section of hip joint with femoral head moved out of socket. Part of cartilage lining socket is damaged. Arthroscope tip is near damage. Microfracture tool is creating small holes in bone under cartilage damage.

Cross section of hip joint with femoral head moved out of socket. New cartilage has formed over area where small holes were placed.

When the articular cartilage (firm tissue that covers the ball and socket of the hip) is damaged, it can cause painful catching in the joint.  Arthroscopy, a surgical technique that requires only small incisions and special instruments, can repair chondral (cartilage) damage. 

In the Operating Room

Just before surgery, you may be asked several times which hip is to be treated. This is a standard safety measure. In the operating room, you will likely receive general anesthesia to make you sleep.

During the Procedure

After you receive anesthesia, your leg is gently pulled to distract, or widen, the hip joint. Next, the surgeon makes a few small incisions called portals. Through these portals, he or she inserts surgical tools, including the arthroscope. The arthroscope sends images of the joint to a video screen. These images allow the surgeon to look inside the joint. The joint is filled with sterile fluid to help the surgeon see more clearly.

Repairing Chondral Damage

If the damaged cartilage is loose, it is removed. If the cartilage is missing, the exposed bone may be shaved to smooth it. Or, small holes may be placed in the bone (microfracture). This allows new cartilage to form. Once the surgeon finishes the procedure, the portals are closed and bandaged. Then you are taken to the recovery room.

 

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