MacDonald, who logged the most ice time per game (23 minutes, 24 seconds) of the team's defensemen this season, will be on crutches for six to eight weeks, followed by rehab.
"He is in some pain, and it's not just normal pain, it's restricting him and hurting him," Islanders interim coach Jack Capuano said Friday.
In addition, the Islanders announced Thursday what had been apparent for a while: defenseman Mark Streit, who has not played this season after suffering a dislocated left shoulder, torn labrum and torn rotator cuff in training camp, was ruled out for the remainder of the season as well.
MacDonald, 24, who had career bests in goals (four), assists (23) and plus/minus (plus-9), will undergo the same hip surgery that teammate and goalie Rick DiPietro had in 2007. Two other Islanders defensemen, Mike Mottau and Mark Eaton, also underwent hip surgery earlier this season.
"[MacDonald] had a terrific year," Capuano said. "He was a leader for our hockey team. He played through a lot of pain. He was definitely a warrior for us and I respect everything that he did. It's just time now that he needs to get it [surgery] done."
Streit, who likely will not play for Switzerland in the world hockey championships next month, has been skating, but has not received medical clearance for game action.
"He was very disappointed," Islanders general manager Garth Snow said. "At the end of the day, the doctors and trainers and medical staff, I go by the information that I'm provided and there just isn't enough time remaining for him to be a 100 percent, I would think."
Defenseman Ty Wishart was called up Friday from AHL Bridgeport.