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Hip Arthroscopy: Repairing Femoroacetabular Impingement

Cross section of hip joint showing abnormal bump of excess bone on ball of thighbone. Excess bone is also on lip of socket.

Closeup of arthroscope tip in hip joint and burr removing excess bone.

Cross section of hip joint showing excess bone reshaped from femoral head and lip of socket.

When excess bone has formed on the edge of the “ball” (femoral head) or the “socket” (acetabulum) of the hip, it's called femoroacetabular impingement (FAI). FAI can cause pain and limit movement. Arthroscopy can fix FAI with only small incisions and special tools.

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. These are called portals. Through these portals, he or she puts surgical tools, including the arthroscope. The arthroscope sends images of the joint to a video screen. These images let the surgeon see inside the joint. The joint is filled with sterile fluid to help the surgeon see more clearly.

Treating FAI

To treat FAI, the area is reshaped by taking out excess bone. Excess bone can be taken from the socket side or ball side of the hip joint, or both. FAI can lead to cartilage problems, such as labral tears or chondral damage. If present, these problems are also treated. Once the surgeon is done, he or she closes and bandages the portals. Then you are taken to the recovery room.

Online Medical Reviewer: Kenny Turley PA-C
Online Medical Reviewer: L Renee Watson MSN RN
Online Medical Reviewer: Thomas N Joseph MD
Date Last Reviewed: 1/1/2020
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