What are Stem Cells?
A stem cell is a cell that has the capacity for both replication and differentiation into other types of cells. With this capability, we can use them as a treatment for joint injuries, ligament and tendon damage, and fractured bones. Research and clinical trials currently support the use of stem cells in these conditions. Ongoing research is targeting other areas of the body for treatment and the preliminary results are very encouraging.
So why do we take the cells from adipose (fat) tissue?
Adult stem cells are highly concentrated in the fat tissue. There are 50 to 1,000 times more stem cells in the fat than the bone marrow. At this concentration, it is no longer necessary to culture the stem cells to acquire the necessary cell numbers to make a healing impact. The procedure to extract fat from the patient is much quicker and even less invasive than a spay. The stem cells are contained within a pool of cells in the fat termed the Stromal Vascular Fraction (SVF). The SVF may impart anti-inflammatory effects, add bioactive peptides, and contribute to reformation and architectural organization. These are benefits lost once stem cells are cultured.
How will the procedure work?
The day of the procedure, the veterinarian will anesthetize your pet. They will surgically remove a couple tablespoons of fat. The most common sites for collecting fat is from just over the shoulder, side of the chest or from the groin area on dogs, and on either side of the tail on a horse. This is a quick and simple procedure that is generally easier than performing a spay. They will then process the fat to remove the stem cells. Processing generally takes a couple of hours. After the stem cells have been collected, your pet will generally be sedated and the stem cells will be administered into the affected joints and/or into the bloodstream. It is important that you do not feed your pet the night before the procedure.
When will I see results?
We expect you to see results! While we know every animal is different and there are no guarantees, we have seen positive clinical improvement in 95% of the arthritic cases performed nationwide. Some owners have even reported seeing a difference in as little as a week! While quick results are possible, we expect you to begin seeing improvement within the first 90 days following treatment. Really bad arthritis may require multiple injections, so banking your extra cells is always a good idea!
Is this procedure safe?
As with any procedure that involves anesthesia, there is always a risk. However, the stem cells are coming from your pet and are being re-administered back to your pet. There is no risk of an allergic reaction. In rare cases there might be a mild immune reaction in the injected joint that should subside within a day or two.