Arthroscopy vs Replacement

Hip injuries often require medical attention to repair the damage. Injury to the hip can occur due to trauma, such as fall injuries or motor accidents and degenerative conditions. Treating the hip can be done using hip arthroscopy or hip replacement. Both treatments are effective but offer different benefits.

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Minimally invasive arthroscopy

Hip arthroscopy is an outpatient procedure that uses an arthroscope to diagnose and treat hip injuries. An arthroscope is a tube with a camera attached to a video monitor. This surgical procedure is minimally invasive, meaning only a small incision is needed. Once the small incision is made, the arthroscope is introduced to allow the surgeon to view the damaged part of the hip. The surgeon will make 1-2 more small incisions if a repair to the damaged area is necessary.

When is hip arthroscopy done?

The arthroscopy procedure is performed when hip pain has not been solved with medical treatments. Hip arthroscopy treats conditions such as hip labral tear or impingement, bone spurs, tendon tears, loose fragments, and hip dysplasia.

Benefits and risks of arthroscopy

Since hip arthroscopy is minimally invasive, the recovery time is fast, and the risk of complications is low. A patient will experience less pain, bleeding, and scarring compared to hip replacement surgery. Adverse events such as infection, injury to nearby structures, and lower limb paresthesia are rare but possible. There could also be a risk of needing another surgery if symptoms are not relieved.

A longer replacement procedure

Hip replacement surgery is much longer and requires the surgeon to replace the damaged joint with a prosthesis. This surgical technique is reserved for patients who fail conservative treatments or if the injury affects daily activities. Severe conditions such as osteoarthritis and osteonecrosis of the hip may require a hip replacement. If a hip arthroscopy fails, the doctor may recommend a replacement.

Pros and cons of hip replacement

The benefit of the replacement procedure is that a new hip lasts 10-15 years for most patients. The disadvantages are that the recovery time is longer and the risk of complications is higher. Like hip arthroscopy, a patient may be at risk of infection, blood clots, and damage to nearby structures. Additionally, a patient may be prone to fractures, dislocations, loosened implants, and changes in leg length.

Deciding on the right surgery

Hip arthroscopy is a less invasive procedure that can be used for diagnosis or treatment and is generally used to treat hip pain. This procedure has a quick recovery time and low risks. A hip replacement surgery replaces the injured hip with an implant and requires a longer recovery time. Replacement is done if conservative treatments fail or a patient’s daily activities are impacted.

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