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The Role of Arthroscopy in Evaluation of Painful Hip Arthroplasty

  • Symposium: Papers Presented at the Hip Society Meetings 2008
  • Published:
Clinical Orthopaedics and Related Research


Unexplained pain after hip arthroplasty is frustrating for patients and surgeons. We describe the use of hip arthroscopy in management of the painful hip arthroplasty, critically evaluate the outcomes of these patients, and refine indications for hip arthroscopy in this setting. We retrospectively reviewed 14 patients (16 hips) who underwent hip arthroscopy after joint replacement. One patient had suspected septic arthritis despite negative aspiration and one had known septic arthritis but was not a candidate for open arthrotomy; two had intraarticular migration of hardware. The remaining 10 patients (11 hips) had persistent pain despite negative diagnostic studies. The two patients (two hips) with infection were successfully treated with arthroscopic lavage and débridement plus intravenous antibiotics. Intraarticular metal fragments and a loose acetabular screw were successfully removed in two patients (three hips). Findings in the remaining 11 hips included a loose acetabular component (one); corrosion at the head-neck junction of a metal-on-metal articulation (one); soft tissue-scar impingement at the head/cup interface (four); synovitis with associated scar tissue (four); and capsular scarring with adhesions (one). Arthroscopy represented a successful treatment or directly led to a successful treatment in 12 of 16 hips. We observed no complications as a result of the arthroscopy. Arthroscopy may be of value in selected patients undergoing hip arthroplasty with unexplained pain after an inconclusive standard workup.

Level of Evidence: Level IV, therapeutic study. See the Guidelines for Authors for a complete description of levels of evidence.

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Correspondence to Joseph C. McCarthy MD.

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Each author certifies that he or she has no commercial associations (eg, consultancies, stock ownership, equity interest, patent/licensing arrangements, etc) that might pose a conflict of interest in connection with the submitted article.

Each author certifies that his or her institution has approved the human protocol for this investigation, that all investigations were conducted in conformity with ethical principles of research, and that informed consent for participation in the study was obtained.

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McCarthy, J.C., Jibodh, S.R. & Lee, JA. The Role of Arthroscopy in Evaluation of Painful Hip Arthroplasty. Clin Orthop Relat Res 467, 174–180 (2009).

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