In a recent study, it was found that hip arthroscopy and the costs associated with recovery are more cost-effective than avoiding surgery through conservative management.  Surgery and the costs associated with surgery can be scary, so patients are often hopeful that they can avoid surgery all together through months of physical therapy, possible regenerative treatments, and activity modification. What patients don’t often realize is that the implicit and explicit costs of nonoperative treatment can really add up over time. These costs often include co-pays, treatment costs, and inability to work in order to attend office visits.  By the time that some of our patients are ready for surgery, they feel that they are unable to afford the surgery itself, and they have typically exhausted physical therapy benefits, forcing them to self-pay for their post-op rehabilitation.

We are often told by patients that they want to avoid surgery as they believe non-operative management is the more “affordable” solution. Many of our patients view the upfront costs of surgery as a barrier, and assume that avoiding surgery will save them money in the long run. This study found that after surgery patients had an increased quality of life, a gain in quality-adjusted life years and increased productivity at work with an increased earning potential when compared to conservative management. They also found that overall, with all factors considered, arthroscopic hip surgery is actually a more economical solution that nonoperative management.

Imagine for a second that you’re car shopping and deliberating between two vehicles. One vehicle was much older and more affordable; the other, a newer, but more expensive certified pre-owned vehicle. The older vehicle, with its lower sticker price, looks to be more affordable, so you end up purchasing this vehicle in an attempt to save money.  Unfortunately, you then end up servicing the vehicle multiple times, losing money as your car becomes more and more unreliable. You start burning oil. The battery dies. The car never stays in alignment.  Ultimately, after missing your fourth day of work this month to go back into the shop you begin to realize that maybe the more reliable car you were considering in the beginning was a better option overall.

Dealing with FAI can lead to substantial disability, diminished quality of life, and loss of employment. Investigators from this study found that hip arthroscopy was the preferred and more cost-effective strategy in 99% of trials.

Several factors come into play when Dr. Wolff considers surgical candidacy over conservative treatment:

  • Disability
  • Conservative measures previously taken
  • Physical Examination
  • Diagnostic and Imaging studies
  • Quality of life

Discussing treatment options with your physician is important. It is imperative that patients make well-informed decisions regarding their healthcare and not jump into any treatment prematurely.  Weigh all options carefully.