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Hip Arthroscopy: Repairing Labral Tears

Cross section of hip joint with arrows showing femoral head of thighbone being pulled out of socket. Dotted line shows normal position of femoral head in socket.
During arthroscopy, the hip joint is gently widened (distracted) to allow access to the joint.

Cross section of hip joint showing arthroscopic instruments removing loose part of labrum. Closeup of arthroscope tip in hip joint and instrument removing part of labrum.

Cross section of hip joint showing arthroscope tip near anchor in bone under labrum. Closeup of arthroscope tip near anchor in bone under labrum. Sutures attached to anchor and tied around labrum hold torn edges together.

The strong, flexible ring of cartilage attached to the edge of the hip socket is called the labrum. When the labrum is torn, there can be symptoms of pain, catching, clicking, or locking in the joint. Arthroscopy is a surgical procedure that uses special instruments inserted through small incisions. With these tools, your surgeon can repair or remove a torn labrum. Your healthcare provider has suggested this procedure called arthroscopy.

In the operating room

Just before surgery, your healthcare providers may ask you 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 widen the hip joint. Next, your 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 your joint to a video screen. These images allow your surgeon to look inside your joint. The joint is filled with sterile fluid to help your surgeon see more clearly.

Repairing labral tears

Labral tears can be removed or repaired. The torn piece of labrum may be removed by cutting, shaving, or heating the tissue to remove it (ablation). A repair of the torn labrum may be done by suturing the tear to the bone. In this case, an anchor is placed in the bone and a suture ties the labrum to the anchor. Some bone may be removed during this process using arthroscopic instruments. Your surgeon also uses arthroscopic instruments to pass the suture through tissue and tie knots through the small arthroscopic portals. Once your surgeon finishes the procedure, he or she closes the portals and bandages them. Then you are taken to the recovery room.

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