We have reviewed the current literature to compare the results of surgery aimed to repair or debride a damaged acetabular labrum. We identified 28 studies to be included in the review containing a total of 1631 hips in 1609 patients. Of these studies 12 reported a mean rate of good results of 82% (from 67% to 100%) for labral debridement. Of the 16 studies that reported a combination of debridement and re-attachment, five reported a comparative outcome for the two methods, four reported better results with re-attachment and one study did not find any significant difference in outcomes. Due to the heterogeneity of the studies it was not possible to perform a meta-analysis or draw accurate conclusions. Confounding factors in the studies include selection bias, use of historical controls and high rates of loss of follow-up.
It seems logical to repair an unstable tear in a good quality labrum with good potential to heal in order potentially to preserve its physiological function. A degenerative labrum on the other hand may be the source of discomfort and its preservation may result in persistent pain and the added risk of failure of re-attachment. The results of the present study do not support routine refixation for all labral tears.
Cite this article: Bone Joint J 2014;96-B:24–30.