Disorders of the hip joint can be physically disabling for the patient and a diagnostic challenge for the physician. Advances in imaging the hip with MRI can help the physician determine a more specific diagnosis for patients with acute or chronic hip pain. MRI and particularly magnetic resonance arthrography have helped raised awareness of nonarthritic hip problems and have made the diagnosis of hip problems much easier. Intra-articular and extra-articular processes can be evaluated with MRI; multiple sequences are available to increase the sensitivity and specificity for detecting specific pathology around the hip. Because the hip is a deep joint within a large soft-tissue envelope, MRI more precisely delineates the sources of hip pain by evaluating the soft tissues and ligamentous structures around the hip. It is helpful to understand the role of MRI in evaluating common pathologic conditions within the hip joint, including labral tears, chondral lesions, loose bodies, tears of the ligamentum teres, femoral acetabular impingement, developmental dysplasia of the hip, and pigmented villonodular synovitis. Hip arthroscopy, a less invasive technique for treating hip problems, has also contributed to the rapid growth of interest in this area of orthopaedic surgery. Hip arthroscopy can be used to evaluate disorders in the intra-articular region (central and peripheral compartments) and periarticular region (iliopsoas bursa and tendon disorders) as well as those in the peritrochanteric region.
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