Is Microfracture Necessary? Acetabular Chondrolabral Debridement/Abrasion Demonstrates Similar Outcomes and Survival to Microfracture in Hip Arthroscopy: A Multicenter Analysis

Mario Hevesi, Christopher Bernard, David E. Hartigan, Bruce A. Levy, Benjamin G. Domb, Aaron J. Krych

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Background: Hip arthroscopy is becoming more advanced and commonly performed. However, significant controversy exists regarding whether high-grade acetabular cartilage lesions should be treated with debridement/abrasion or microfracture. In addition, patients treated with microfracture are subject to extended protected weightbearing rehabilitation to mitigate risk of subchondral plate fracture and to protect fibrocartilage tissue formation. Purpose: To determine the midterm patient-reported outcomes and failure rate of patients with grade 3 and 4 acetabular labrum articular disruption (ALAD) lesions managed with debridement/abrasion or microfracture. Study Design: Cohort study; Level of evidence, 3. Methods: Primary arthroscopic labral repair cases at 2 centers from November 2008 to April 2016 were reviewed for patients aged <55 years with unipolar ALAD grade 3 and 4 chondrolabral acetabular delamination. Patients undergoing microfracture and debridement/abrasion were compared using the visual analog pain scale (VAS), modified Harris Hip Score (mHHS), and Hip Outcome Score–Sports-Specific Subscale (HOS-SSS) to determine predictors of outcomes and failure. Results: A total of 113 hips in 110 patients (66 males, 44 females; mean age, 34.5 ± 1.1 years) undergoing debridement/abrasion (n = 82) or microfracture (n = 31) were followed for a mean of 4.9 years (range, 2.0-8.5 years). Lesion size was not statistically different between the debridement/abrasion (1.3 ± 1.0 cm2) and microfracture cohorts (1.4 ± 1.0 cm2) (P =.47). Patients undergoing debridement/abrasion achieved 3.6-point mean improvements in VAS (P <.01), 21.2-point improvements in mHHS (P <.01), and 25.4-point improvements in HOS-SSS (P <.01), which were not significantly different from those observed in microfracture patients (P≥.20). The 5-year rate of survival free of revision surgery was 84.0% in the debridement/abrasion group and 85.6% in the microfracture group (P =.78). The cartilage treatment technique was found not to be predictive of revision risk during both univariate (hazard ratio [HR], 1.01; P =.98) and multivariate (HR, 0.93; P =.90) analysis accounting for patient age, lesion grade, and acetabular coverage. Conclusion: Patients undergoing debridement/abrasion of high-grade unipolar acetabular cartilage lesions demonstrate similar outcome scores and revision rates compared with those of patients undergoing microfracture. These outcomes support the consideration of preferential debridement/abrasion at the discretion of the treating surgeon to optimize recovery while maintaining established positive outcomes after hip arthroscopy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1670-1678
Number of pages9
JournalAmerican Journal of Sports Medicine
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jun 1 2019


  • MCID
  • VAS
  • abrasion
  • chondroplasty
  • debridement
  • hip arthroscopy
  • labral repair
  • mHHS
  • microfracture
  • midterm

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation


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