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The Learning Curve for Hip Arthroscopic Surgery: A Prospective Evaluation With 2-Year Outcomes in Patients With Femoroacetabular Impingement



The use of hip arthroscopic surgery in the treatment of femoroacetabular impingement (FAI) is increasing, but it is universally known as a technically demanding procedure with a "steep" learning curve. There are limited data investigating the correlation between surgeon experience and patient-reported outcomes (PROs) as well as procedure and traction times.


To prospectively evaluate the relationship between surgeon experience and PROs after hip arthroscopic surgery for the treatment of FAI.

Study design

Cohort study; Level of evidence, 2.


A total of 190 patients undergoing primary hip arthroscopic surgery for FAI were prospectively enrolled during a sports medicine fellowship-trained surgeon's first 36 months of practice. A radiographic evaluation as well as PRO surveys including the 12-Item Short Form Health Survey (SF-12), the modified Harris Hip Score (mHHS), and the Hip disability and Osteoarthritis Outcome Score (HOOS) were administered preoperatively and at 2 years postoperatively. Logistic regression as well as analysis of variance was performed to evaluate for correlations between surgical experience and PROs, procedure time, and traction time.


Of the 190 patients, 168 (88%; mean age, 35.3 ± 9.6 years; mean body mass index, 25.07 ± 3.98) completed a 2-year follow-up and were included for analysis. The mean procedure time was 91.5 ± 23.9 minutes, and the mean traction time was 54.0 ± 17.7 minutes. Patients demonstrated significant improvements at 2 years after surgery for all PRO scores (mHHS, HOOS, and SF-12 physical component summary; P < .001), except the SF-12 mental component summary, which had no change (P = .43). The procedure time significantly decreased after 70 cases, while the traction time continued to decrease until 110 cases (R 2 = 0.99; P < .0001). There was no correlation between increasing case volume and 2-year PRO scores (P > .2 for mHHS, HOOS, and SF-12). There was also no difference with increasing case volume and amount of improvement from preoperative to 2-year postoperative PRO scores for the SF-12 and HOOS. Case volume did not affect the complication rate, as this cohort experienced 4 minor cases of neurapraxia.


Surgical efficiency in hip arthroscopic surgery for the treatment of FAI was maximized after 110 cases in this cohort. However, significant PRO improvements can be achieved early in a surgeon's practice prior to maximizing surgical efficiency.

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