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Doctor offers new procedure
Hip replacements involve less pain
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When Charlie Brown had hip replacement surgery in 2002, the painful recovery meant weeks of using a walker followed by weeks of leaning on a cane.

In October he had his other hip replaced. But this time, he walked up 22 steps to his apartment the very next day.

"It's just unreal how little recovery there was to it," the 67-year-old Gainesville man said. "... Oh, it is a total world's difference."

This time around, Brown chose to have an innovative hip replacement surgery provided by Dr. Charlie DeCook at The Longstreet Clinic.

DeCook is one of just six orthopedic surgeons in Georgia who practice the anterior approach hip replacement surgery, and Northeast Georgia Medical Center is one of just three hospitals in the state that has the table required for the procedure.

Traditional hip replacement surgeries work with an incision through the muscles in back of the patient's hip, which results in a large portion of muscle being cut. In the anterior approach, the patient lies on his or her back and the incision is made at the front of their hip, allowing for less muscle to be affected.

The difference between the two approaches, DeCook said, is that the anterior approach has a less painful and strenuous recovery process.

"They can have surgery in the morning and we get them walking that day of surgery, which is awesome," he said. "They're getting rid of their walker or their cane much quicker than a regular hip replacement."

Patients who have the anterior approach surgery are also at less risk for dislocating their hip during the recovery process.

DeCook has done this procedure on about 140 patients in two years. He came to The Longstreet Clinic five months ago and has done about 25 hip replacement surgeries
The anterior technique has been discussed since the 1940s, DeCook said, but it only gained popularity a few years ago. Many doctors are still cautious of the new approach, he said.

"It's a new technique and it takes surgeons a while to adopt a new technique," he said. "...Surgeons get used to doing it a certain way and they like to do it that way."

DeCook said new doctors are being trained in this procedure every day, and he expects it to be more widely available to the public in the near future.

That, Brown said, is a wonderful thing. Today, he can't feel a difference between his two hips, but the recovery this time around let him enjoy life without pain a lot sooner.

"I can do anything I want," he said. "There are two joints in my body that don't hurt. It's just really great. I mean, really great."