August 24, 2017 – Southeast Georgia Health System is entering a new
era of surgery, offering hope to people with chronic hip pain or impaired
hip mobility. According to Beau Sasser, M.D., minimally invasive hip arthroscopy
is a new frontier for arthroscopic surgeries.
A board-certified orthopaedic surgeon with Summit Sports Medicine &
Orthopaedic Surgery, a strategic affiliate of the Health System, and medical
director of the Health System’s Sports Medicine Program, Sasser
performs hip arthroscopies on the Health System’s Brunswick Campus.
“We will springboard this technique to help patients with limited
hip motion or chronic hip pain delay the need for a total hip replacement,” he says.
An alternative to traditional open surgery, the procedure requires just
two to four small incisions. Using an arthroscope (similar to an endoscope),
Sasser examines and treats the hip joint. This “hip scope”
contains a tiny camera that projects images from inside the joint onto
a display monitor. During this exploratory stage, Sasser diagnoses the
problem. If treatment is appropriate, he then inserts surgical instruments
through the arthroscope. Guided by a close-up view on the monitor, he
repairs torn labral cartilage, removes damaged tissue or performs other
techniques as needed.
This minimally invasive method has several advantages. For patients, the
tiny incisions, hip-specific instruments and advanced imaging techniques
mean less pain, blood loss and scarring. More importantly, arthroscopies
help preserve hip function. “This approach isn’t used in lieu
of a hip replacement. Instead, we use it to preserve hip function or in
some cases, prevent the need for hip replacement. It’s always best
to preserve the natural hip joint when possible because a hip replacement
is a mechanical device with a limited lifespan,” says Sasser.
People in their 40s to 50s with tears in the labrum (the cartilage or tissue
around the hip joint) can benefit from hip arthroscopy, as can young athletes
with chronic hip pain from a labral tear. In addition, arthroscopies can
correct hip impingement, or impaired mobility, resulting from a bone spur.
If the hip joint is severely degenerated from arthritis, or deformed due
to hip dysplasia, arthroscopic repair is not sufficient. In those cases,
a total hip replacement is generally the best method to achieve long-term
Hip arthroscopy requires general anesthesia and patients should prepare
for a long recovery. “Rehabilitation lasts four to six months, which
is much longer than other arthroscopic procedures require, but the anatomy
of the hip joint is complex,” says Sasser. For patients willing
to invest the time, he believes the results are worth it. “Previously,
we had limited treatment options for certain patients. As a sports medicine
doctor, I focus on prevention, so I’m excited to offer this option
to patients who are candidates for hip arthroscopy,” he says.
To find out if hip arthroscopy is right for you, or to schedule a consultation,
call Summit Sports Medicine & Orthopaedic Surgery at 912-466-7340 or visit
sghs.org/summit to learn more.