The surgeon I saw for a torn hip labrum assures me that the labrum can be “resealed” and I can avoid an early total hip replacement this way. What do your experts say about this?


You may find our Patient Guide to Labral Tears of the Hip helpful as you begin to explore this diagnosis and potential treatment options. Basically, the acetabular labrum is a fibrous rim of cartilage around the hip socket that is important in normal function of the hip. It helps keep the head of the femur (thigh bone) inside the acetabulum (hip socket). It provides stability to the joint.

Labral tears occur most often with major trauma to the hip. Sometimes minor trauma such as twisting or slipping and/or repeated hip motions can lead to labral tears. When caught early while the tear is small enough, conservative (nonoperative) care can be successful in managing the symptoms and preventing further damage.

But when painful symptoms are not relieved and basic activities such as sitting, standing, and walking become so painful — then surgery may be needed. Sometimes a simple debridement procedure is done. The surgeon carefully shaves away the jagged, torn portion of the labrum and reattaches any part that can be saved.

If labral repair is unsuccessful or not advised, labral reconstruction is possible. In fact, this surgery has become more popular as surgical techniques and tools have improved. This may be the type of surgery you mentioned. Restoring the labral seal in order to reinstate physiologic function of the hip joint is now possible.

Patients who have severe labral damage that can’t be fixed may benefit from the use of graft tissue to replace the original labrum. Graft tissue can come from the patient’s own body such as from the gracilis tendon, ligamentum teres capitus, or iliotibial band. The harvested tissue is used to span the gap caused by labral deficiency.

Studies of long-term outcomes following this type of surgery are not available yet. But early studies with limited short-term results show that the procedure is safe and results are satisfactory.