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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.

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 your hip socket called the labrum is torn. This can cause pain, catching, clicking, or locking in the joint. Your healthcare provider has suggested a procedure called arthroscopy. Using only small incisions and special instruments, arthroscopy can remove or repair your torn labrum. 

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 are sedated, your leg is gently pulled to distract, or widen, the hip joint. Next, the 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 the joint to a video screen. These images allow the surgeon to look inside the joint. The joint is filled with sterile fluid to help the 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 ablation (heating the tissue to remove it). A repair of the torn labrum is done by suturing the tear to the bone. In this case, an anchor is placed in the bone and a suture (thread) ties the labrum to the anchor. Once the surgeon finishes the procedure, the portals are closed and bandaged. Then you are taken to the recovery room.


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