An osteoplasty is a type of surgery performed on the hip joint for the purpose of altering the rim of the socket and/or the ball that sits within the joint. It is a successful technique for improving the function of the joint and promoting a fuller range of movement. Osteoplasty is ideally performed at an early stage of hip problems. This procedure helps resolve pain and other symptoms while preserving the natural structures of the joint, preventing the need for a more extensive hip replacement.

Osteoplasty is an effective method of treating certain forms of femoroacetabular impingement, also known as FAI, which is an abnormality in the way the ball of the femur and the acetabulum, or hip socket, fit together. It is a fairly common condition that affects more men than women. An improper shape of the ball and socket creates excess friction in the joint and may cause a significant amount of pain. There also may be a sensation of catching or popping within the hip.

Over time, hip impingement can tear or wear down the hip cartilage, causing pain, swelling, stiffness and loss of mobility. The condition may be present at birth but cause no symptoms until later in life. Vigorous athletic activity—particularly soccer, football, hockey and running—may exacerbate the symptoms.

The problem is typically diagnosed after a physical examination by a doctor and a series of imaging tests such as X-rays and MRI scans are performed. Initially, a range of conservative treatment options will often be explored. However, if pain and other bothersome symptoms persist, an osteoplasty may be recommended.

The Osteoplasty Procedure

The osteoplasty procedure generally takes several hours to complete, depending on the extent of the work that is required. It may be performed using an arthroscopic technique in which a few tiny incisions are created. The surgeon will insert a small camera in one incision and specialized surgical tools in the others. In other cases, an open procedure may be necessary, accessing the joint through one long incision near the hip.

After anesthesia is administered and the incision has been made, the surgeon will remove a section of bone from the femoral neck and reshape it in order to increase the amount of clearance that exists within the hip socket. If necessary, bone will be removed from the rim of the socket as well. The goal is to trim the bones enough to prevent the impingement from occurring, relieve the symptoms, reduce the likelihood of osteoarthritis developing and improve the range of motion in the hip.

Recovery from Osteoplasty

After an osteoplasty procedure, patients may be required to remain in the hospital overnight. Typically, an assistive device such as crutches or a cane will be necessary for the first several weeks post-surgery to prevent patients from overstressing the hip joint while walking. Physical therapy can be very beneficial in regaining strength and flexibility in the hip as well as obtaining a greater range of motion. Most patients can return to relatively sedentary jobs after approximately two weeks. However, more active pursuits and sports may be restricted for up to six months following the surgery.

Risks of Osteoplasty

Osteoplasty is generally considered a safe procedure, but all forms of surgery carry some risk. Although rare, the risks typically associated with osteoplasty may include infection, formation of blood clots and avascular necrosis due to an interruption of blood flow to the femur.