Stem Cell Therapy
Stem cells are the root cells to help grow almost anything in the body again. There is a small cache of these remaining in the bone marrow and other places in the body. These cells have the capacity to grow into daughter cells and create the same tissue again.
As body will not be having the right condition to multiply these cells and recreate the tissue, the same process can be stimulated in the laboratory and millions of such cells with specialized function can be created.
How does Stem Cell Therapy work?
For recreating the new bone or cartilage, the stem cell therapy is very useful in regeneration in conditions such as avascular necrosis (AVN) hip, Cartilage loss (contained defects) in the knees, ankles and hips. A small piece of cartilage with the bone under that is taken from the knee by arthroscopy (keyhole surgery) from an area which is not weight bearing part. Alternatively, bone marrow (blood inside the bone) is aspirated using a needle from the back portion of the pelvic bone. This will be safely labeled and sent to the laboratory. The stem cells are separated and stimulated to grow a specific line of cells in millions. This process takes around 4 to 6 weeks. Then it is transported back to the hospital and through a second procedure, used to either fill the cartilage defects or to regenerate into the bone.
Can we use embryonic stem cell from the same family instead?
Embryonic cells can grow irregularly and controlling them to differentiate into one single line of cells with single specialization is still something researchers are working on. Embryonic cells can still mount immune response against the host receiving the graft and will necessitate long term use of the immune-suppressant medications for long term. In the long run, the embryonic cells may simply stop working in the host body. There is no validation of these so far. Hence currently, this is not used for the stem cell therapies in orthopedic field.
What can I expect post-surgery?
Post stem cell therapy, the area may need to be protected from full weight bearing for a period of 2 to 3 weeks. During this period, usually mobility by gentle passive movements is maintained. By 6 weeks most of these should start stabilizing. By 4 to 6 months most people return back to the sporting activities.