Hip arthroscopy, or a “hip scope”, is a minimally-invasive hip procedure.   The procedure is done using 2-3 small incisions (approximately 1/4-1/2 inch long) rather than a more invasive “open” surgery that would require a much larger incision. These small incisions, or “portals”, are used to insert the surgical instruments into the joint.

During the arthroscopic hip procedure, the flow of saline through the joint provides the surgeon with excellent visualization. The surgeon is also aided by fluoroscopy, a portable x-ray apparatus that is used during the surgery to ensure that the instruments and arthroscope are inserted properly.

Hip Scope Procedure

Courtesy of AAOS

A labral tear involves the ring of soft, cartilage tissue that surrounds the entire outside rim of the hip socket.  The labrum aids in stability and shock absorption for the hip joint.  Symptoms include hip pain or a “catching” sensation in your hip joint.  You may have groin pain or a “clicking” sensation when rotating your hip.  Stiffness and limitation is range of motion may also occur.


The instruments used include an arthroscope, which is a long thin camera that allows the surgeon to view the inside of the joint, and a variety of “shavers”,  allow the surgeon to repair or cut away (debride) the frayed cartilage or labrum that is causing the pain.  Sometimes a small burr is also used to shave away a bump of bone that is responsible for the cartilage or labral damage.


The primary indications for hip arthroscopy are removal of loose bodies (usually cartilage), debridement/repair of hip labral tears (the labrum is a ring of cartilage around the hip socket), removal of pathologic synovium (joint lining), and rarely, for early stages of hip arthritis..