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      Columbia doctor using alternative method to help those with hip trouble

      COLUMBIA (WACH) - A controversial new medical procedure performed by a Columbia doctor is helping a Raleigh woman get back to a normal life.

      Nancy Roache was used to having hip trouble. The cartilage in her hip had worn away. Cartilage keeps at joints from rubbing together. Walking long distances had become very painful for Nancy.

      "My right hip had bone on bone for 10 years," Roache said.

      Roache, who lives in Raleigh, North Carolina, read about a procedure performed in Columbia by Dr. Thomas Gross, called hip resurfacing. Instead of replacing the hip, Gross is using a method to replace the cartilage using metal caps to rebuild the hip.

      "You're trying to do the same thing just replacing the cartilage layer. This had to be done initially because the initial resurfacings didn't work. Because the matererials weren't tough enough. And we perfected this and perfected this and perfected this. A hip replacement is a very good operation but you take a lot more bone and you have a smaller ball, " said Gross. "The bone grows into that over time. And on the femeral side you also do the same thing you trim a little bone off you drill a tiny hole for the peg."

      Gross, who has performed thousands of hip resurfacing procedures, says the alternative reduces complications from a whole hip replacement

      "It's mainly the stability, if you make the ball smaller, it will dislocate. So you have certain restriction or if you bend it too far back you could pop it out by accident, which means you have to go to the emergency room."

      Gross says the latest results he's seen show the success rate at five years after the first resurfacings were done in the U.S. using his method is 98 pecent for all patients.

      Patients undergoing hip resurfacing spend less time in recovery. Aside from using a cane, Roache was nearly back to normal at her six- week follow up. But Gross says not all doctors are on board with hip resurfacing.

      "There are many surgeons who wouldn't do it on anybody," said Gross.

      But for Nancy Roache, who is back on her feet six weeks post operation, hip resurfacing is a walk in the park.