Hip arthroscopy, or hip scope, is a minimally invasive surgical procedure that can be used to treat a wide variety of hip conditions and injuries, such as hip labral tears and hip impingements.

Traditionally, hip surgery was an invasive, open surgery that required a large incision to be able to view the hip joint and provide treatment. But with hip arthroscopy, our arthroscopic hip surgeon in Boulder, Colorado, Dr. Austin Chen, is able to view the hip joint using small incisions and an arthroscope, which is a long, thin camera.

Hip Arthroscopy Overview

During hip arthroscopy surgery, our surgeon, Dr. Chen, will make three to four small incisions on the hip and insert an arthroscope, or small camera, into one of these incisions. The arthroscope will display pictures of the hip joint onto a nearby monitor, providing Dr. Chen with an exact location of the problem as well as the ability to guide special surgical instruments to repair it.

Dr. Chen may also use a variety of shavers that allow him to cut away (debride) the frayed cartilage or labrum that is causing the hip pain. Additionally, the shaver may be used to shave away bumps of bone that are responsible for the cartilage or labral damage.

Anatomy of the Hip Image

Hip Impingement Image

In addition to removing frayed tissue and loose bodies within the joint, the surgeon may drill holes into patches of bare bone where the cartilage has been lost. This technique, called microfracture, promotes the formation of fibrocartilage where it has been lost.

To provide excellent visualization during hip arthroscopy, Dr. Chen will utilize the flow of saline through the hip joint during the procedure. Dr. Chen will also use fluoroscopy, which is a portable X-ray instrument that ensures that the instruments and arthroscope are inserted properly during surgery.

Benefits of Hip Arthroscopy Surgery

Arthroscopy of the hip performed by an expert surgeon provides patients with the following benefits:

  • A faster recovery time
  • Less scarring
  • Less soft tissue damage
  • Minimizes hip pain
  • Provides early treatment of conditions that can cause hip arthritis

Is Hip Arthroscopy Right for You?

Patients who are good candidates for arthroscopic surgery of the hip are active individuals with hip pain that have minimal or no hip arthritis. Patients who have advanced arthritis or have already suffered a significant loss of cartilage in the hip joint are not good candidates for arthroscopic surgery of the hip. Those patients may be better suited with a different hip surgery, such as hip replacement or an additional surgical procedure.

Through physical and diagnostic exams, our surgeon specializing in hip arthroscopy, Dr. Austin Chen is able to determine if hip arthroscopy is right for you.

Conditions and injuries of the hip that arthroscopy is usually able to treat include:

  • Bursitis
  • Cartilage damage
  • Femoroacetabular impingement (such as cam impingement or pincer impingement)
  • Gluteal tendon tears
  • Hip dysplasia
  • Labral tears
  • Snapping hip


Following your arthroscopic procedure, you will be given crutches to use for the first two weeks—occasionally six to eight weeks—after surgery to minimize weight-bearing. You will need to schedule a postoperative appointment about two weeks after your surgery. As no two patients are the same, regular postoperative appointments with your surgeon are necessary to formulate the best possible recovery plan for your specific needs.

Postoperative care and rehabilitation play a major role in the recovery process as well as the success of the surgery. Within one to two days of your hip arthroscopy surgery, you will begin a physical therapy regimen to help improve the strength and flexibility in your hip. You will continue physical therapy as well as in-home exercises for three to four months. Around this time, most patients can resume normal activities, but it may take four to six months for you to experience improvement in pain following physical activity.

Studies have shown that 85 – 90% of hip arthroscopy patients return to sports and resume physical activities at the level they were before their onset of hip pain and impingement. The majority of patients improve significantly, but it is not yet clear to what extent the procedure changes the course of arthritis. If you have underlying skeletal deformities or a degenerative condition, you may not experience as much relief from a hip arthroscopy as a patient with a simple impingement.

BoulderCentre for Orthopedics & Spine's Hip Arthroscopy Expert

At BoulderCentre for Orthopedics & Spine, we are dedicated to providing our patients with the highest level of hip care possible. Our hip arthroscopy expert, Dr. Austin Chen, is a board-certified, dual-fellowship-trained orthopedic surgeon who specializes in arthroscopic surgeries of the hip. Having undergone extensive training, including a fellowship in hip arthroscopy, Dr. Chen is highly skilled in hip arthroscopy and uses this minimally invasive approach to treat multiple hip problems and get patients back to a life in motion across Colorado.

For more information or to schedule an appointment with our hip arthroscopy expert, Dr. Austin Chen, call 303.449.2730 or request an appointment online.

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