Autologous Stem Cell Therapy is a new non-operative treatment that enhances tissue repair and provides an alternative option for orthopedic conditions that have traditionally required invasive surgery. Of all the modalities of regenerative medicine approved in the USA this is the most advanced and the most sophisticated of all. It is also the most involved and the most expensive. But still, if you compare it with a joint replacement surgical procedure, its cost, risks, suffering and also down time involved, it is minimal when compared to the surgery. This procedure is done strictly under local anesthesia, at our office and you walk in and out in one hour.
A joint replacement surgery is a traumatic major surgical procedure that requires the risk of a major anesthetic with all its possible complications and also requires a long rehabilitation period. Additionally and what is even worse, at the end you may still suffer from pain. Just ask around to friends that have has a joint replacement and get them to tell you about their experience.
The actual stem cells are obtained either from your Bone Marrow (best for younger patient) by doing a bone marrow aspiration or from the subcutaneous fatty tissue (best for older patient) by doing a mini liposuction. We combine bone marrow aspirations with fat obtained from the subcutaneous tissue by a mini-liposuctions in our patient since we feel this gives the best results. Additionally we also draw about 40 CC of blood from a peripheral vein, usually an arm vein. You take then the fat and also the bone marrow aspirate and you centrifuge it to concentrate and separate the stem cells. You then also centrifuge the blood obtained from your arm and obtain a very rich portion of the plasma with a high content of cells called platelets and a high content of growth factors. This is called platelet rich plasma or PRP. (No stem cells here, just platelets and growth factors).
We then take the fat and the concentrated platelets and growth factors and injected them into the area we are treating like for example the hip joint, the knee joint, the shoulder, the ankle, etc. , etc. We use fluoroscopy or ultrasound guidance for the injection to make sure they are deposited where they need to go. Doing it blindly is never the way to go because you basically are guessing and can’t be 100% certain of where you are putting it. A month after your procedure you will have a booster injection of platelet concentrate with growth factors to further stimulate the growth of the stem cells you deposited there.