Stem cell therapy has great potential in tissue regeneration and repair for various forms of arthritis. Patients now have the option of obtaining these advanced treatments right here in Sri Lanka with superior outcomes.
Q: What are stem cells?
A: Stem cells are unspecialised cells with self-renewal potential and ability to differentiate into various adult cell types. They have the ability to self-renew and differentiate into different cell types.
Q: From where are stem cells/MSCs derived?
A: Stem cells can be acquired from bone marrow, adipose tissue, synovium and peripheral blood. These can be either concentrated or expanded and injected articularly into joints or tendons and can be injected at the time of the surgery.
As it can be generally challenging to obtain MSCs, the standard is to obtain them from the area we will be operating on. If it is a knee procedure, shoulder procedure or any other procedure we can go to anterior or posterior Iliac Crest.
Usually, around 50-60cc of Bone Marrow Aspirate is obtained. From this essentially 14 times or more concentration of inherent MSCs can be acquired.
Bone marrow concentrate is used in our treatment and is mostly harvested multipotent stem cells.
Q: What are concentrated MSCs?
A: It is bone marrow concentrate, similar to Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) but with a generally increased number of white blood cells and less fibrinogen with reduced clotting potential. One of the attractive features of MSCs is the ability to readily harvest from the patient’s own tissue source such as bone marrow.
Q: How is the procedure performed?
A: Needle is injected to carefully extract bone marrow usually from the iliac crest.
A sufficient amount collected, the bone marrow aspirate is concentrated to isolate the stem cells before injecting them directly into the affected area through BMAC (Bone Marrow Aspirate Concentrate) system which is an advanced system available at Durdans and arthroscopic guidance used for knee and shoulder system to make sure it is injected into the accurate place. Procedure takes about 3-4 hours.
These proteins then stimulate repair and regeneration at the site, offering the patient pain relief and quicker healing rates. In most cases, 1-3 injections are required.
Q: How do stem cells function in healing and regeneration?
A: It helps to regrow cartilage/tendon tissue
Q: What Other Conditions are Treated?
A: Stem Cells can treat a number of conditions for the hip, knee, arm, shoulder, lower leg and feet. It is best to consult with your physician for a complete listing. Other conditions that can be treated with stem cell:
- Acute muscle tears and strains
- Chronic Tendinopathies (tennis elbow, Achilles tendon, patellar tendon and rotator cuff)
- Ligament injuries (ie: medial or lateral collateral ligament—MCL/LCL)
Q: Is Stem Cell Therapy Painful?
A: Patients usually tolerate the injection well. However, there can be some soreness after the injection due to the inflammatory response. You can expect swelling and soreness during the first 48 hours post injection and are given pain medication to help alleviate the discomfort.
Q: How Quickly Does Stem Cell Therapy Work?
A: Most patients see some improvement within 2-6 weeks. The pain gradually less as the weeks pass with reported improvement up to 6 months post injection.
Q: Are These Injections Safe?
A: Stem and platelet injections are safe. Since you are using your body’s own blood components and there are no foreign substances being injected into your body.
The only risk is infection.
Using one’s own body as a healing mechanism is a relatively new concept in the world of medicine, and an exciting one at that. As therapies such as these begin to prove they are beneficial and effective, you will likely see similar therapies develop in other medical areas.
Q: Is there any Patient who would not be a Good Candidate for Stem Cell Therapy?
A: Patients with severe anemia, low platelet count, abnormal platelet function, active systemic infection or those with an active cancer are not recommended to be administered with stem cells.
Q: How Can I Check If I’m a candidate?
A: A consultation is required before any treatment may take place. The consultation includes a comprehensive review of your complaints, medical history and a thorough examination will be conducted. Diagnostic studies will be reviewed and/or ordered at the time of the consultation to determine the cause of your complaint(s). Once a diagnosis is established, the doctor will discuss treatment options with you including if you are a candidate for stem cell therapy.