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Stem Cell Therapy (Regenerative Medicine)

What is Regenerative Medicine?

The field of regenerative medicine aims to restore cell, tissue or organ function following damage or loss secondary to injury, disease, or aging.   Approaches include the use of cell-based therapies, tissue engineering, biomaterials, and artificial organs. 

What are Stem Cells?

Stem cells are regenerative cells that can differentiate into multiple cell types to form new functional tissue. Regenerative cells may also secrete factors that reduce autoimmune responses and inflammation, promote cell survival, and stimulate tissue regeneration.

Stem cell therapy uses only adult stem cells harvested from your pet's own body. This means no fetal cells are involved. The procedure is completed same-day, and is performed using a small sample of your dog's abdominal adipose (fat) tissue.

Adipose-derived stem cells have the ability to differentiate into many different types of tissue, including bone, cartilage, fat, muscle, nerves, and liver tissue.  They occur naturally in the body and are drawn to areas which are damaged. 

What is the procedure for stem cell therapy?

Our veterinarians obtain 10 grams of fat from your pet's body through a small incision in the abdomen. This procedure is performed under general anesthesia and typically takes 15 minutes to complete once your pet has been prepped for the procedure. This sample then undergoes a series of patented processing steps in our "in-house" laboratory until a final concentrated suspension of activated stem cells is obtained. This stem cell suspension is then combined with Platelet Rich Plasma (derived from your pet’s blood), and portions of this final suspension are injected into the affected joint(s) and/or injected intravenously depending on treatment goals. The joint injections are typically performed under light sedation.  Because the laboratory process is performed in-house, the entire procedure is completed in just one day.

How long do the effects of stem cell therapy last?

The benefits of treatment are typically seen for 6 months to 1 year.

Can the procedure be performed more than once?

Yes.  We can arrange for, and encourage owners to have, their pet’s stem cells “banked” at a stem cell banking facility.  If future treatments are needed, the stem cell banking facility simply provides us with your pet’s purified stem cells that are ready for injection.  This means that your pet does not need to undergo any further surgical procedures, and treatments can be repeated multiple times for the entire life-span of your pet.

For which conditions is Stem Cell Procedure suitable?

At the moment, stem cell therapy is limited to the treatment of orthopedic issues such as damage to joints, ligaments, cartilage, tendons, and bones. We are using it for other purposes on a limited basis, including some degenerative neurologic conditions.

Stem cell therapy is not suitable for cancer patients or patients with active infections.

Are all animals with arthritis suitable candidates for Stem Cell Procedure?

No. All patients must undergo a thorough screening process for suitability. This often includes bloodwork and x-rays, and may also include consultations with a veterinary orthopedist, a veterinary neurologist, and a veterinary rehabilitation therapist.

Is there any guarantee that this procedure will be successful?

No. Stem Cell therapy is not a "cure-all" for all bone and soft tissue damage.   An old dog with arthritis can't become a puppy again, but we hope to reduce the pain and inflammation caused by the disease, thereby providing better quality of life. We also expect greater mobility and less reliance on medications after the procedure.

Do all clinics perform this procedure?

No.  Our practice uses an advanced procedure which allows us to process the harvested fat sample using specially purchased laboratory equipment. This means we can complete the procedure from start to finish in just one day.

Is the procedure safe?

There are risks involved with any anesthetic procedure, and it is important to talk with your veterinarian about these prior to scheduling any surgery. Beyond the potential anesthetic risk, there is very minimal risk involved in this procedure.

What aftercare is required following the procedure?

Rest is important for 14 days following the procedure, combined with limited exercise and some physical therapy which you can easily do at home. 

If you believe your pet may be a candidate for Stem Cell treatment, please contact us to arrange an initial consultation to discuss your pets' suitability and for us to answer any further questions you may have.