Stem cell therapy is a form of regenerative medicine that utilizes the body’s natural healing mechanism to treat various conditions. Stem cells are being used in regenerative medicine to renew and repair diseased or damaged tissues, and have shown promising results in treatments of various orthopedic, cardiovascular, neuromuscular and autoimmune conditions. The goal of stem cell therapy is to amplify the natural repair system of the patient’s body by increasing the numbers of stem cells at injury sites. Adult stem cells can be harvested from many areas in the body. These include adipose tissue (fat), bone marrow and peripheral blood. The mesenchymal stem cell is the most commonly harvested. In certain situations, these have the ability to turn into cells that form the musculoskeletal system such as tendons, ligaments, and articular cartilage. However and most importantly, current applications in orthopaedics are unlikely to truly be associated with regenerative or disease modifying outcomes. Rather, the indirect impact from growth factors that modulate inflammation and the immune system may improve the symptoms and or healing process of several orthopaedic conditions. The use of these agents are largely considered investigational and are not covered by insurance.
To obtain stem cells from the bone marrow, a needle is inserted into the bone (usually illiac crest, humerus, or tibia) to extract bone marrow aspirate. The bone marrow aspirate is spun in a centrifuge for 15 minutes and a concentrated stem cell sample is separated, called bone marrow aspirate concentrate (BMAC). The stem cells are then injected directly into the injured area. In our practice, BMAC may be done as an adjunct to a variety of surgical procedures, including rotator cuff repair, superior capsular reconstruction, osteochondral allograft, and chondral debridement.
Stem cells from adipose are typically obtained from your waist, processed to remove impurities and inflammatory components, and then injected at the site of injury. In our practice, this may be performed as an adjunct to a surgical procedure.
Dr. Cole’s related videos
- Bone Marrow Aspiration
- Dr. Cole’s use of stem cells during rotator cuff repair