Intra-articular Damage and Patient Outcome Comparison Between Athletes and Nonathletes After Hip Arthroscopy


Background: The body of literature comparing hip arthroscopy between athletes and nonathletes is relatively scarce. Analyzing these groups can help to shed light on the severity of intra-articular damage and end-stage osteoarthritis that may result from participation in strenuous activities.

Purpose: (1) To compare the intra-articular damage at the time of hip arthroscopy between athletes and nonathletes, and (2) to compare the pre- and postoperative outcomes between the groups.

Methods: Patients were considered eligible for analysis if they had received a primary hip arthroscopy between August 2008 and June 2018, were participating in competitive athletics, and had preoperative baseline scores and minimum 2-year follow-up for the following patient-reported outcomes: modified Harris Hip Score, Nonarthritic Hip Score (NAHS), Hip Outcome Score-Sports Specific Subscale, and visual analog scale. Propensity score matching was used to match eligible patients in a 1:1 ratio to patients who were not participating in any sports greater than a recreational level before surgery.

Results: A total of 234 patients were included. There were no significant differences in the severity of labral tears, ligamentum teres tears, or cartilage damage (P > .05). The procedures performed between cohorts were similar (P > .05). The athlete population had higher preoperative means scores for the modified Harris Hip Score and NAHS (each P < .001). Likewise, the athlete population had higher postoperative means scores for the NAHS, Hip Outcome Score-Sports Specific Subscale, and visual analog scale (P = .031, P = .030, and P = .032, respectively). Additionally, the athlete cohort reported higher minimum 2-year outcomes than the nonathlete cohort for the 12-Item Short Form Health Survey (mental component; P = .003) and Veterans RAND 12-Item Health Survey (mental component, P = .032; physical component, P = .005).

Conclusion: At the time of hip arthroscopy, athletes demonstrate similar intra-articular damage to their nonathlete counterparts. Given their higher preoperative scores, it is possible that athletes better tolerate the damage to the hip joint. Despite their strenuous activities and potentially higher tolerance to pain, athletes should not necessarily be expected to have greater severity of intra-articular pathology.

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