Labral tear and hip arthroscopy
The labrum is the ring of cartilage positioned around the outside of the hip joint. It usually holds the ball of the hip joint in place, but can be torn or detached with trauma.
Once torn, the labrum cannot reattach to the bone or heal on its own. Surgery is required to reattach it, although reattachment is not always needed. Many patients are able to return to normal activity without need for surgery.
Symptoms & treatment
Labral tears in the hip do not always show symptoms, particularly if the tear is not severe. Asymptomatic cases generally do not require treatment.
Where they do show, the most typical symptom is pain located deep in the groin or buttocks on the affected side. It may increase on movement, particularly if the hip is rotated in certain directions. This may be accompanied by a clicking or catching sensation on movement as well as joint stiffness.
Most labral tears are initially treated with nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) and physiotherapy. These serve to reduce pain and improve the joint’s stability. Corticosteroid injections may be employed for pain relief if these are not effective.
Where surgery is required, the preferred method of repair is via hip arthroscopy. This minimally-invasive approach allows the surgeon to access the labrum through small incisions and repair the labrum using tiny, specialised tools. Dr Jonathan Cabot is specially trained to perform this procedure.
Arthroscopic labral tear repair
Arthroscopic repair is the preferred surgical treatment for labral tears. It involves performing the entire surgery through a few small incisions, resulting in minimal scarring and often a shorter recovery time.
Open surgery for labral tear repairs is rarely performed.
During an arthroscopic labral tear repair, the surgeon can perform several tasks:
- Repair the labrum – The labrum can be reattached to the hip socket using tiny anchors.
- Debride the joint – Loose, damaged tissue can be trimmed, smoothed, and removed.
- Perform other repairs – If other hip abnormalities are present (such as bone spurs), the surgeon may be able to correct them in the same procedure.
Indications for hip arthroscopy
Young, healthy people are usually the best candidates for hip arthroscopy. This is due to them having less tissue surrounding the joint, which allows better viewing and manoeuvrability for the surgeon.
Candidates can range in age from people in their late teens to people in their 50s and 60s.
Hip arthroscopy may not be suitable for patients with moderate to severe arthritis. Hip arthroscopy is not usually sufficient to manage these cases, and they are best managed with joint replacement.
Suitability for hip arthroscopy is assessed during your consultation with Dr Jonathan Cabot.
Recovering from hip arthroscopy
Hip arthroscopy typically requires an overnight hospital stay. You will generally need to use walking aids for a few days to a week post-procedure.
Driving within 48 hours of receiving a general anaesthetic is not recommended. Following this period, you can generally resume driving once you feel confident in bearing weight on your leg.
As exertion and activity can increase your pain level. It is advisable to return to normal activity gradually. High-impact activities – such as sport or heavy lifting – should be minimised for 6-12 weeks.