Authored by Revere Health

Preparing for Hip Arthroscopy: What to Know Before You Go

July 16, 2018 | Orthopedics

Your doctor may recommend hip arthroscopy to diagnose or treat certain conditions of the hip. This minimally invasive procedure uses small incisions through which a tiny camera and instruments can be inserted. Learning about hip arthroscopy before your procedure will provide peace of mind and help you prepare for recovery. Here are some of the most common questions we receive from patients.


Why Do I Need Hip Arthroscopy?

If you experience hip pain or limited mobility that does not respond to rest, anti-inflammatory medications and physical therapy, you may be a candidate for hip arthroscopy. It is most often used for damage to the cartilage and soft tissue surrounding the joint caused by injury or underlying problems such as:

  • Infection of the joint
  • Loose fragments of cartilage or bone
  • Synovitis, a condition that causes joint inflammation
  • Snapping hip syndrome, a condition in which a tendon is damaged by rubbing against the bone
  • Dysplasia, a condition in which the hip socket is abnormally shallow, putting stress on the surrounding tissues
  • Femoroacetabular impingement, a condition in which bone spurs develop and damage the surrounding tissue


What Is Involved in the Procedure?

During a hip arthroscopy, the surgeon inserts a small camera into the hip joint. This projects images onto a screen, allowing him or her to diagnose problems and guide surgical instruments to make repairs as needed.

In most cases, hip arthroscopy is an outpatient procedure. This means you can have it done without being admitted into the hospital. It is usually performed under general anesthesia, although some surgeons may use regional anesthesia. After administering anesthesia, your surgeon will put the leg in traction to provide access to the hip joint. S/he will then make a small incision—about the size of a buttonhole—to insert the arthroscope.

Once the joint is visible onscreen, the surgeon will repair the joint as needed. This can include repairing or removing damaged tissue, smoothing torn cartilage and trimming bone spurs. The length of the procedure depends on the extent of injury to the joint.


How Long Does it Take to Recover From Hip Arthroscopy?

Hip arthroscopy has the benefit of an easier, shorter recovery compared with traditional open surgery, which requires a larger incision. Complications from this procedure are very rare and may include infection, temporary numbness and deep vein thrombosis.

After the procedure, you’ll be observed for about one to two hours and will need a friend or family member to drive you home. Most people who have hip arthroscopy must use crutches or a walker for a short period; usually only a few weeks, but sometimes as long as two months depending on the specific procedure. Your doctor will prescribe pain medications to reduce discomfort during the recovery period.

Most people make a complete recovery from hip arthroscopy, but some must limit physical activity to protect the joint. This may mean discontinuing high-impact exercises like running.

Your doctor can offer further recommendations when it comes to proper treatment of your hip pain. Always consult your doctor before making conclusions about your health.


Dr. Carlson tends to be conservative with surgical treatment, and much of his training is in minimally-invasive procedures, such as arthroscopy. He believes everyone deserves a trial of a more conservative treatment before moving to more invasive treatments such as surgery. Dr. Carlson tries to spend time with patients to better understand their goals and work together to come up with a treatment plan based on those goals and their distinct medical history.



“Hip Arthroscopy.” OrthoInfo.

“Hip Arthroscopy.” MedlinePlus.


The Live Better Team

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This information is not intended to replace the advice of a medical professional. You should always consult your doctor before making decisions about your health.