The use of one of your hips is compromised thanks to a labral tear, and you want to restore full function to this important joint. Thanks to advances in the use of hip arthroscopy, your options for a minimally invasive solution are much better and not only include repair of this critical connective tissue, but also reconstruction.
The team here at Western Orthopaedics features a specialist in hip arthroscopy — Dr. Brian White — who is a big believer in techniques that preserve your hip, such as labral reconstruction or labral repair.
Here’s a look at the difference between the two.
The role of your labrum
When researching the different options for labral damage, it’s important to understand the role that this tissue plays in your hips.
Your hips are large ball-and-socket joints where the top of your femur sits inside a socket in your pelvis bone, called your acetabulum. Each of these sockets features a ring of cartilage around the edge called the labrum, which helps to keep (and seal) your femur firmly in the socket.
When you incur a tear in this tissue, the seal is broken, which can lead to hip problems like:
- Locking or catching
- Loss of range of motion
When this happens, Dr. White’s goal is to repair or reconstruct the damaged labrum in a way that preserves as much healthy tissue as possible. Ultimately, through advanced surgical techniques, our goal is to help you avoid hip replacement.
Labral repair versus labral reconstruction
There’s much that we can determine with advanced imaging, but it’s often not until we take a look inside your hip joint that we’re able to truly assess the damage.
This visualization is the first goal of hip arthroscopy, a technique in which we thread a tiny camera through a small incision to better view the inner structures of your hip joint.
Once Dr. White has a clear idea of the extent of your labral tear, he determines which course of action is best — repair or reconstruction.
The deciding factor between the two often comes down to how much healthy tissue he has to work with. For example, if he’s performing a repair, Dr. White first debrides the area (cleans out damaged tissue) and then reattaches the healthy tissue to your acetabulum.
If, however, there’s not enough healthy tissue to recreate a solid seal, Dr. White turns to reconstruction, using a graft to reconstruct the tissue and the seal.
This graft can come from one of two sources:
- An autograft — Dr. White uses your own tissue to reconstruct your labrum, which usually comes from your iliotibial band or your hamstring tendon.
- An allograft — Dr. White uses healthy donor tissue, which comes from the same tissues we described above.
Dr. White performs the reconstruction using specialized tools that he threads through small incisions. Using the camera, he guides the instruments to make the necessary repairs or to reconstruct your labrum.
In most cases, through minimally invasive hip arthroscopy, you benefit with less postoperative pain, less risk of infection, and a faster recovery period.
If you want to learn more about a labral repair versus labral reconstruction, contact one of our offices in Denver or Arvada, Colorado, to set up an appointment with Dr. White.