About the surgery:
Arthroscopic hip surgery is minimally invasive (keyhole) surgery using a narrow pencil sized fibre-optic camera and light to look inside the joint through two small skin incisions. A specially designed operating table, called a ‘traction table’, is used to allow the surgeon access to the hip joint. Hip arthroscopy allows the surgeon to safely and accurately assess damage to the hip joint and to perform any corrective procedures required.
What to expect after surgery:
You will normally remain in hospital for one night after the procedure. You will be given analgesia, through a drip and/or in tablet form. You will experience discomfort in the hip that will improve gradually with time. Some patients report a sense of tingling, or numbness in the groin or thigh, which is not unusual and will resolve over time.
You can walk and weight bear as tolerated immediately after surgery, but you should use two crutches initially with a gradual return to weight bearing, which may take up to two weeks. You may then find it useful to use a single crutch in the opposite hand to the operated hip for a further week or two as you regain confidence and comfort. Gentle walking as soon as possible is the best form of physiotherapy, or recovery exercise, for the first few weeks. Follow any exercises you are given by the physiotherapist in hospital.
You should rest for the first few days after surgery. Pain and swelling are best treated with rest and elevation, as well as regularly icing the area. Icing the hip and thigh for 20 minutes every few hours for at least the first few days will greatly assist in reducing swelling and pain.
Caring for your wounds:
You will have two small incisions that should be kept covered, clean and dry for two weeks. You may shower but avoid wetting the dressings. If the dressings get wet, you should pat them dry with a clean towel. Do not have a bath or swim for three weeks due to the risk of infection. Do not have a bath or swim until Mr Patten has seen you in his rooms at your post-operative appointment and he has cleared you for such activities.
You will have a few sutures in the wounds which will need to be removed at 10 to 14 days. This is usually done at your post-operative appointment or you may see your GP if that is more convenient.
For further information regarding wound management, please read the ‘post-operative wound management’ leaflet provided to you by our rooms before surgery.
Managing your pain:
Pain is a normal part of the healing process after surgery and will slowly improve over time. In the early days following surgery you should rest and elevate the leg, as well as regularly ice your hip, as this will all significantly help to reduce pain and swelling.
Regular use of analgesia such as Panadeine Forte for the first week and mild analgesia such as Panadol is suggested. You should continue taking analgesia as long as you have hip pain, but patients generally require pain relief for about one month after surgery. On discharge from hospital you will be provided with some analgesia for pain control. For ongoing analgesia requirements, we suggest you arrange an appointment with your GP to obtain a prescription.
If you are concerned about your level of pain, please do not hesitate to contact our rooms for reassurance and to rule out a rare complication.
Recovery from surgery:
Whilst different patients recover from surgery at their own pace, you will generally use two crutches for two weeks or so. You may feel comfortable and confident enough to walk without any crutches after one month. You will generally return to lighter physical activities after approximately four to six weeks, with some discomfort still felt at times. From about three months after surgery you may undertake heavier physical activities. Patients often regain the last subtleties of their recovery between three to six months from surgery.
If your right hip has been operated on, you should not drive for approximately three weeks. For left hip surgery you may drive after one to two weeks for an automatic car, and three weeks for a manual car.
You may need one to two weeks off work if your job is office-based or sedentary in nature. If your job is more physically demanding, you may need to remain off work for four weeks or so, but Mr Patten will discuss this with you prior to surgery.
Risks and complications:
Hip arthroscopy is very safe and although uncommon, complications can sometimes occur. These include a very low risk of infection which may require antibiotics, blood clots, bleeding, or persisting hip pain.