Femoroacetabular (hip) impingement surgery

Hip impingement surgery is a procedure to repair an injury to the labrum, the cuff of cartilage that surrounds the acetabulum (hip socket). In this procedure, the surgeon cleans out or repairs torn labrum tissue by sewing it back together. The surgeon then re-shapes the bones of the hip joint. This surgery may be done arthroscopically, with several small incisions, or open, with a larger incision.

Arthroscopic repair of labral injuries is preferred when possible because it allows surgeons a full view of the hip without having to cut through nerves or muscles. Patients experience less pain and blood loss and fewer complications. The result is a more balanced, stable repair that helps restore full function.

If the damage is more severe or there are other reasons arthroscopic surgery can’t be done, open surgery is performed.


In a smooth-functioning hip, the rounded top of the femoral head (thigh bone) fits perfectly into the hip socket. A thin layer of cartilage lines the ball and socket, cushioning and protecting the bones, and preventing them from rubbing against each other. A ring of soft elastic tissue, called the labrum, provides stability and helps keep the femoral head in place.

Hip impingement occurs when the bones in the hip joint develop abnormally during childhood. Also called femoroacetabular impingement, it causes the hip bones to rub against each other, breaking down the articular cartilage and tearing the labrum.

When is surgery recommended?

Arthroscopic surgery is the standard treatment for hip impingement in young adults because it reduces pain and allows people to stay active. Most importantly, it removes one of the major risk factors for developing early onset arthritis of the hip. Results are very good in patients whose cartilage damage is minimal at the time of surgery. If arthritis already exists, the results are not as favorable. If advanced arthritis exists, patients are better served with hip replacement surgeries.

What is the recovery time?

Because hip arthroscopy is a minimally invasive procedure, the typical recovery period is weeks rather than months. Rehabilitation begins immediately after surgery and includes special exercises to restore range of motion, strength and flexibility in the hip. Most patients return to normal activities within a few weeks. For athletes, full return to sports may take four to six months.

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