Articular cartilage is a soft, fibrous tissue that covers the ends of bones within a joint, allowing for smooth, low-friction motion. Articular cartilage can become damaged through trauma associated with sporting accidents, femeroacetabular impingment, or as a result of the normal aging process. While certain structures within the hip joint may be capable of healing, articular cartilage has an extremely low healing potential. Chondroplasty is a procedure intended to remove mechanical symptoms related to cartilage injury and help prevent further injury to the cartilage. The goal is to delay the onset or progression of arthritis of the hip, which is often the result of cartilage damage.
When articular cartilage becomes damaged, loose flaps of cartilage may cause mechanical symptoms and/or can break off and become lodged in the hip joint. Eventually, cartilage damage may leave exposed bone resulting in bone-to-bone grinding sensations and a loss of joint motion. This is often associated with hip pain and hip stiffness, thus limiting movement and function. Arthroscopic hip chondroplasty is a procedure that Dr. Anz performs to remove mechanical symptoms and improve function. The approach has been shown to be most successful in patients with small, partial thickness injuries where the damage has not yet reached the bone itself and when the deforming force causing the cartilage injury can also be removed, such as in the setting of CAM femeroacetabular impingment. During this procedure, which is performed arthroscopically using tiny keyhole incisions, the loose flaps of cartilage are removed. Using a camera (arthroscope), Dr. Anz will be able to visualize where the loose pieces of fragmented cartilage are located, and will remove them. He will also address other abnormalities in the same surgery. In patients who are found to have exposed bone from loss of cartilage with good intact surrounding cartilage a microfracture procedure may also be performed to regenerative tissue. Although microfracture cannot restore normal cartilage, it does produce functional tissue.
Following arthroscopic hip chondroplasty, Dr. Anz will prescribe a thorough physical therapy and rehabilitation program. This will be a progressive process and will work on restoring motion, strength and full function of the hip joint. Patients who undergo a microfracture procedure can expect to be on crutches for 8 weeks.
For more information on arthroscopic hip surgery, including chondroplasty of the hip for articular cartilage treatment, please contact the Gulf Breeze, Florida orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Adam Anz located at the Andrews Institute.