Hip arthroscopy is being used to treat a variety of hip conditions. The surgeries range from labral repairs, labral debridements, treatment of osteochrondral defects and femoral acetabular dysplasia. Most of these conditions are diagnosed with a history , physical examination and diagnostic studies such as plain X-rays and MRI. There has not been a scientific study evaluating the accuracy of hip MRI in asymptomatic patients.
Recently published in the American Journal of Sports Medicine in December of 2012, was an excellent research paper that answered the question: how often are there abnormal findings on MRI scans of the hip in patients that have no hip pain or symptoms?
Drs. Registen et. al. , at the Steadman Philippons Research Center in Vail, Colorado, performed MRI scans on 45 patients with no hip complaints or symptoms. They found abnormal MRI findings 73% of the time in asymptomatic hips. The average age of the patients was 37.8 years with a range of 15 to 66 years. They found asymptomatic labral tears 69% of the time. Another common finding identified chrondral defects in 24% of the hips that were imaged. Other findings were fibrocyctic changes of the head and neck junction (22%), paralabral cysts (13%) and ligamentum teres tears were noted in 2.2% of the studies.
The researchers also discovered that patients older than 35 years of age were 13 times more likely to have a chrondral defect and 16 times more likely to have findings consistent with sub chrondral cysts. A strong correlation was seen between participates age and early markers of cartilage degeneration.
This interesting study reveals that many people may have hip pathology and have no symptoms.