Regenerative medicine has become widely known among patients and you may have questions about this therapy. Most often, patients inquire about PRP treatments or stem cell therapy. Both PRP and stem cells are found in your own blood and bone marrow and both may help with the healing process.
PRP is Platelet Rich Plasma and this plasma is found in the patient’s own blood and extracted with a simple blood draw. When the platelets are concentrated, the red blood cells and white blood cells in patient’s blood are controlled and most of the cells that cause catabolic reactions are removed. The result is a potent mixture of cells and plasma that can be used to re-inject into the area of injury. There are many studies that support the efficacy of using PRP to reduce inflammation and pain in patients with acute or chronic musculoskeletal injury, including osteoarthritis. A recent compelling study was done by Dr. Patrick A. Smith in 2016 in accordance with the FDA. This study asserts that PRP is a safe treatment that provides significant pain relief for patients with osteoarthritis. After one year pain scores increased by 78% of the baseline score for patients who received PRP injections while scores in the placebo group only improved by 7%. (Smith 2016 884-891).
Stem cells, more specifically mesenchymal and hematopoetic stem cells, are found in adult bone marrow. In order to extract adult bone marrow an experienced surgeon must perform a minor procedure to aspirate the marrow and some surrounding whole blood from a large bone, such as the ilium in the patient’s hip. These cells are then reinjected into the site of injury. While there are more published studies on the use of PRP, there are recent studies that support the use of autologous stem cells for certain orthopedic problems. Some of the most compelling results are found in a study by Dr. Phillipe Hernigou on the use of stem cells with rotator cuff repair. He found that after six months 100% of patients who received stem cell treatment had healed while only 67% of patients healed without stem cells. After ten years, 87% of patients who received stem cells had intact rotator cuffs while only 44% of those without stem cells remained intact, (Hernigou, et al. 2014 1811-1818). There are many other stem cell studies currently underway.
Smith, Patrick A. “Intra-Articular Autologous Conditioned Plasma Injections Provide Safe and Efficacious Treatment for Knee Osteoarthritis.” The American Journal of Sports Medicine, vol. 44, no. 4, Apr. 2016, pp. 884–891. Pubmed.gov, doi:10.1177/0363546515624678.
Hernigou, Phillipe, et al. “Biologic augmentation of rotator cuff repair with mesenchymal stem cells during arthroscopy improves healing and prevents further tears: a case-controlled study.” International Orthopedics, vol. 38, no. 9, July 2014, pp. 1811-1818. Pubmed.gov, doi:10.1007/s00264-014-2391-1.
Helping Surgeons Treat Their Patients Better™. (n.d.). Retrieved December 11, 2017, from https://www.arthrex.com/