The term “preservation” refers to the concept of keeping the patient’s own ball on the upper end of the thigh bone and own socket in the pelvis. Whilst the joint itself may be diseased in some way, there may be surgical methods available which can alleviate the discomfort and malfunction associated with the disease but still keep the hip intact.
This refers specifically to arthroscopic surgery or surgery involving osteotomies or division of bones aimed at redirecting the weight bearing forces within the joint.
Arthroscopic surgery can be accomplished under a general anaesthetic in an operating theatre in a day surgery environment. Two or three small nicks in the skin are required to insert the telescope bearing the camera and other instruments that can be used to smooth, trim, shave or even remove some bone or loose bodies from a joint. This arthroscopic surgery can be extremely successful when used for the right indication in the right patient by the right surgeon.
The other type of hip preservation surgery relates to osteotomies or the division of bones. Whilst the ball and socket themselves are not interrupted with the osteotomy, the socket could be re-aligned or redirected, as could the upper end of the thigh bone and its ball. What was once a mal-aligned joint can be re-aligned. Whilst the wear that has occurred can not necessarily be reversed, the rate of demise of the joint thereafter can be appreciably slowed. A good analogy would be a motor vehicle that requires a wheel alignment. As a result of the abnormal alignment, the front tyres had been scrubbing and wearing eccentrically. After the wheel alignment, that tread does not regrow obviously but the rate at which the tread wears thereafter is dramatically slowed. Similar feats can be accomplished around the hip joint with this hip preservation surgery.