Background: Recent case studies on the surgical treatment of femoroacetabular impingement (FAI) have introduced a large amount of clinical data. However, there has been no clear consensus on its efficacy.
Hypothesis: The current literature can be clarified to address 4 questions: (1) Does treatment for FAI succeed in improving symptoms? (2) In which subset of patients should treatment for FAI be avoided? (3) Is labral refixation superior to simple resection? (4) Does treatment for FAI alter the natural progression of osteoarthritis in this group of typically young patients?
Study design: Systematic review.
Methods: Twenty-three reports of case studies on the surgical treatment of FAI were identified and a systematic review was conducted. Data from each study were collected to answer each of the 4 focus questions.
Results: This review of 970 cases included 1 level II evidence trial, 2 level III studies, and 20 level IV studies. Based on patient outcome scores and effect size, all studies demonstrated improvement of patient symptoms. Up to 30% of patients will eventually require total hip arthroplasty; those patients with Outerbridge grade III or IV cartilage damage seen intraoperatively or with preoperative radiographs showing greater than Tonnis grade I osteoarthritis will have worse outcomes with treatment for FAI. Only 2 studies directly compared labral refixation with labral debridement. Several studies reported postoperative osteoarthritis findings; only a minority of these patients had progression of their osteoarthritis.
Conclusion: Surgical treatment for FAI reliably improves patient symptoms in the majority of patients without advanced osteoarthritis or chondral damage. Early evidence supports labral refixation. It is too soon to predict whether progression of osteoarthritis is delayed.
Clinical relevance: These results may be used to help predict the outcome of surgical treatment of FAI in different patient populations and to assess the need for labral refixation.