Many orthopaedists wonder whether—or under what circumstances—arthroscopy confers any clinical benefit in treating hip osteoarthritis. A prospective matched-pair analysis by Chandrasekaran et al. in the June 15, 2016 Journal of Bone & Joint Surgery suggests that arthroscopy does not help prevent the eventual conversion to total hip arthroplasty (THA) in hips with Tönnis grade-2 arthritis (moderate narrowing of the joint space with moderate loss of femoral-head sphericity).
The authors compared two-year outcomes from 37 patients with Tönnis grade-2 hip osteoarthritis who had a hip arthroscopy performed with outcomes from matched cohorts of 37 Tönnis grade-0 and 37 grade-1 hips on which arthroscopy was also performed. In all cases, arthroscopy sought to address symptomatic intra-articular hip disorders refractory to nonoperative management. The cohorts were matched to minimize the confounding effects of age, sex, and BMI on the outcomes.
There were no significant differences among the groups with respect to four patient-reported outcome measures (including the modified Harris hip score), VAS pain scores, and patient satisfaction levels. However, Tönnis grade-2 hips had a significantly higher conversion rate to THA compared to the other two matched cohorts. In absolute terms, a subsequent THA was required for 3 hips in the Tönnis grade-0 group, 5 in the Tönnis grade-1 group, and 15 in the Tönnis grade-2 group.
From this finding, the authors conclude that “hip arthroscopy has a limited role as a joint preservation procedure in select patients with Tönnis grade-2 osteoarthritis…Hip arthroscopy can effectively restore the labral seal and address impingement, but patients may continue to experience symptoms associated with the osteoarthritis.”