Young adults with hip pain secondary to femoroacetabular impingement (FAI) are rapidly being recognised as an important cohort of orthopaedic patients. Interest in FAI has intensified over the last decade since its recognition as a precursor to arthritis of the hip and the number of publications related to the topic has increased exponentially in the last decade. Although not all patients with abnormal hip morphology develop osteoarthritis (OA), those with FAI-related joint damage rapidly develop premature OA. There are no explicit diagnostic criteria or definitive indications for surgical intervention in FAI. Surgery for symptomatic FAI appears to be most effective in younger individuals who have not yet developed irreversible OA. The difficulty in predicting prognosis in FAI means that avoiding unnecessary surgery in asymptomatic individuals, while undertaking intervention in those that are likely to develop premature OA poses a considerable dilemma. FAI treatment in the past has focused on open procedures that carry a potential risk of complications.
Recent developments in hip arthroscopy have facilitated a minimally invasive approach to the management of FAI with few complications in expert hands. Acetabular labral preservation and repair appears to provide superior results when compared with debridement alone. Arthroscopic correction of structural abnormalities is increasingly becoming the standard treatment for FAI, however there is a paucity of high-level evidence comparing open and arthroscopic techniques in patients with similar FAI morphology and degree of associated articular cartilage damage. Further research is needed to develop an understanding of the natural course of FAI, the definitive indications for surgery and the long-term outcomes.
Cite this article: Bone Joint J 2013;95-B, Supple A:26–30.