Acetabular labrum surgery of the hip

What is the hip acetabular labrum?

The acetabular labrum is a cartilaginous ring encircling the opening of the acetabulum, the socket-like cavity in the pelvis into which the head of the femur bone inserts to form the hip joint. Also known as the glenoid labrum of the hip joint, it is the ligament that holds these two bony surfaces together. Like any ligament, it is made up of dense, fibrous tissue strong enough to prevent the bones it connects from separating. The labrum also adds to the depth of the hip socket, which helps prevent subluxation or dislocation of the thigh bone from the pelvis.

What is a labral tear?

A labral tear is damage to this cartilage and tissue in the hip socket. In some cases, it causes no symptoms. In other cases in can cause pain in the groin. It can make you feel like your leg is ‘catching’ or ‘clicking’ in the socket as you move it. Over time, labral tears in the hip may cause permanent damage to the joint.

How is it investigated?

Traditional investigations such as x-rays, CT scans, Ultrasound or even MRI are notoriously bad at diagnosing acetabular labral tears. The best way to confirm the presence of a clinically suspected tear is to have an MR-arthrogram, which is an MRI scan combined with injecting the hip joint with a special dye- this has a diagnostic accuracy of about 90%.

Why does it tear?

The labrum can tear for many reasons. Some people can get a torn labrum from falls or car accidents. Sports that require lot of hip rotation, like golf, football and hockey can increase the risk. However, almost 75% of cases have no known direct cause. Instead, these tears may develop gradually. Labral tears in the hip have been linked to osteoarthritis and are more common in women than men.

How can it be repaired?

A torn acetabular labrum can be repaired by surgical reshaping of the hip. In some cases this procedure can be performed through just a small incision (arthroscopically), so your joint doesn’t have to be opened up. This is also known as keyhole surgery, and can be done as a day case or one-night stay in hospital.

How do I recover from surgery?

Following your surgery you will taught how to use crutches and will remain on these for 4-5 days. Physiotherapy will help you regain your full range of movement, increase your muscle strength, improve your balance and return you to sports and hobbies that you enjoy.

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