Background and aims: A few studies have investigated therapeutic effect of hip arthroscopy in osteoarthritis, and therefore the use of hip arthroscopy in osteoarthritis has remained controversial. The aim of this study was to evaluate diagnostic and therapeutic aspects of hip arthroscopy in primary osteoarthritis.
Material and methods: During a time period from 1995 to 1999, a total of 68 patients had an arthroscopic evaluation of primary hip osteoarthritis at the Päijät-Häme Central Hospital, Lahti, Finland. The mean (range) follow-up was 1.3 (0.3 to 4) years. Arthroscopy was diagnostic in 38 (56%), while six (9%) patients received either long-lasting anaesthetic or prednisolone, and in 24 (35%) debridement was possible. Partial synovectomy was performed in two (3%).
Results: Three months after the arthroscopy, 49 (72%) patients reported that their hip pain had decreased. One year after the arthroscopy, 18 (26%) patients stated that their hip pain was less pronounced than before the arthroscopy. The severity of hip osteoarthritis in preoperative x-rays correlated significantly (p = 0.035) with the subjective result: the milder the osteoarthritis, the more often patients reported that their hip pain had decreased after arthroscopy. No association was observed between age, sex, modified Outerbridge grade of chondropathy, or whether a debridement was done or not and the symptomatic relief after the arthroscopy.
Conclusions: Hip arthroscopy with or without debridement of loose cartilage may, at least temporarily, reduce the pain of mild or moderate osteoarthritis of the hip. Still, repeated arthroscopies had no therapeutic effect.