Stem Cell Therapy
Stem cell therapy is an exciting part of a rapidly growing area within medicine termed Regenerative Medicine. Stem cells are cells that have the opportunity to become several different tissue types and also have the ability to self-replicate. Stem cells are found throughout the body in certain tissues and in varying concentrations. Bone marrow and adipose tissue both have high concentrations of stem cells and are readily available within the body.
Bone Marrow Aspiration (BMA)
At Spine & Joint Solutions, a procedure called bone marrow aspiration is performed to collect stem cells for use in areas of injury. The aspiration process typically takes between 5 and 10 minutes and begins with having a patient lie on a bed on his/her stomach. The iliac crest bone, or top ridge of the hip bone, is the location chosen from which to draw bone marrow out. The region is sterilized and then anesthetized to reduce any discomfort. A needle is then advanced into the iliac crest, and only of the amount of bone marrow product that is needed for treatment is aspirated from the region. The needle is then removed. Given that the bone marrow aspiration technique that is used by Dr. Martin is the most advanced on the market at this time and effectively concentrates the product during the aspiration process, no centrifuge duration of the bone marrow is necessary. This, in turn, shortens the overall procedure and causes less potential harm to the bone marrow product. The bone marrow aspiration (BMA) product is then ready to be injected into the desired area. If the target is the joints or soft tissue, then an ultrasound is used to help guide the needle directly into the region of damage. If the target is the spine, a fluoroscope (x-ray machine) is used to help guide the needle into the region of damage. When stem cells are placed in an area of degeneration or injury within the body, these cells have the ability to decrease local inflammation and heal damaged tissue.
Donor Stem Cells
There are certain situations in which using bone marrow-derived stem cells is not the best option. In these situations, further discussions about donor stem cells are reasonable and necessary. Any individual who is known to have a chronic illness, such as a rheumatologic condition, or a person who has been treated with chemotherapy or radiation, may not have extremely healthy stem cells, as your stem cells are only as healthy as you are. In addition, more recent literature has outlined that any individual over the age of 60 should consider using donor stem cells due to having a low concentration of stem cells within their own body.
Following a health, full-term delivery, the placenta and umbilical cord may be collected. Stem cells are then collected from the Wharton’s jelly within the umbilical cord. The final stem cell product is then placed in a vial and stored at -196°. At the time of your treatment, the product is thawed within the vial, drawn into a syringe and placed into the target area under either ultrasound or fluoroscope guidance.
Stem cell therapy is a safe and conservative treatment option for multiple musculoskeletal conditions, including joint degeneration, cartilage injury, tendon injury, ligament injury, facet joint injury and disc injury.
All regenerative medicine patients at Spine & Joint Solutions will receive a comprehensive approach to their treatment process. This will include a full consultation, during which all questions will be answered. A packet will be provided that includes information on what to expect before, during and after the procedure. This will include post-injection protocols and activity modifications, as well as what to expect from the rehabilitation process, which begins four weeks after the injection. An outline describing an anti-inflammatory diet, suggested supplements, and recipes will also be included. Patients may be asked to wear a brace or use crutches to offload the joint or spine region that was treated.
Additionally, each patient who undergoes treatment with either PRF or stem cells will be asked to take part in the research that is being conducted at Spine & Joint Solutions. This will consist of filling out simple questionnaires before treatment and again at specific points following treatment. Repeat imaging may be pursued to ensure tissue healing.