Clinical Orthopaedics and Related Research®

, Volume 470, Issue 12, pp 3398–3405

The Biomechanical Case for Labral Débridement

Symposium: ABJS Carl T. Brighton Workshop on Hip Preservation Surgery



Labral repair is increasingly performed in conjunction with open and arthroscopic surgical procedures used to treat patients with mechanically related hip pain. The current rationale for labral repair is based on restoring the suction-seal function and clinical reports suggesting improved clinical outcome scores when acetabular rim trimming is accompanied by labral repair. However, it is unclear whether available scientific evidence supports routine labral repair.


The questions raised in this review were: (1) does labral repair restore normal histologic structure, tissue permeability, hip hydrodynamics, load transfer, and in vivo kinematics; and (2) does labral repair favorably alter the natural course of femoroacetabular impingement (FAI) treatment or age-related degeneration of the acetabular labrum?


An electronic literature search for the keywords acetabular labrum was performed. Three hundred fifty-five abstracts were reviewed and 52 selected for full-text review that described information concerning pertinent aspects of labral formation, development, degeneration, biomechanics, and clinical results of labral repair or resection.


Several clinical studies support labral repair when performed in conjunction with acetabular rim trimming. Little data support or refute the use of routine labral repair for all patients with symptomatic labral damage associated with FAI. It is not known whether or how labral repair affects the natural course of FAI.


Based on the current understanding of labral degenerative changes associated with mechanical hip abnormalities, the low biologic likelihood of restoring normal tissue characteristics, and mechanical data suggesting minimal consequence from small labral resections, routine labral repair over labral débridement is not supported.


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Copyright information

© The Association of Bone and Joint Surgeons® 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Orthopaedic SurgeryWilliam Beaumont HospitalRoyal OakUSA

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