What Is a Hip Scope and How Does It Work?

Dr. John Toth is an orthopedic surgeon at Banner Health Clinic in Gilbert. For more information on this topic, talk with your doctor or call Dr. Toth's office at (480) 543-6700.

Question: What is a hip scope and how does it work?

Answer: A hip scope, or hip arthroscopy, is a minimally invasive surgical approach that enables an orthopedic surgeon to diagnose and treat certain hip problems. Similar to knee or shoulder arthroscopy, the surgeon uses small incisions and a miniature surgical camera called an arthroscope to view images of the hip, examine the interior of the joint, and identify the source of the problem. During a hip scope, the surgeon may also remove or repair any joint damage using small surgical instruments.

If a patient is experiencing significant hip pain, swelling or stiffness that does not respond to non-surgical treatments like medication, physical therapy or rest, a physician may recommend a hip scope to determine the exact nature of the problem. The doctor will use information from a patient’s clinical history, physical exam, and any imaging studies such as X-rays or MRIs to determine if a hip scope is appropriate. However, only certain conditions benefit from a hip scope. The procedure is most commonly used to remove any loose bodies or torn or loose cartilage in the joint. For individuals with more complex conditions, such as advanced arthritis, a more invasive procedure like total hip replacement may be necessary.

A hip scope is typically performed on an outpatient basis, and recovery time and improvement of joint function depend on how much damage is found in the joint. A patient will have some discomfort and swelling and should avoid any strenuous activity for the days following the procedure. Physical therapy is prescribed post-surgery and is an important part of the recovery process. Because every individual responds differently, the surgeon will provide guidance on when it is safe to resume certain activities once surgery and physical therapy have been completed.

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