When we first began offering orthopedic stem cell therapy in 2005 as part of an IRB approved medical study, we were one of the few clinics in the world treating orthopedic problems with stem cells. When we began treating everyday patients in 2007, this was still the case. Now other clinics are beginning to offer basic cell therapies, most in plastic surgery and cosmetics, with a few clinics just starting to try orthopedic therapies. While we welcome the growth in cell based medicine, we also know that we’re world leaders in this area.  As leaders, we set a higher standard for ourselves in all of the cell-based procedures we offer our patients.

Advanced Imaging Guidance for All Injections

Regenexx physicians use advanced imaging guidance to ensure cells are placed in the exact area of need. Studies have shown that even in easier to inject joints like the knee, experienced physicians injecting blindly in the office can miss the joint up to 14-45% of the time (depending on approach and the severity of arthritis). This means that injecting without imaging guidance (blind) will have stem cells get into the knee joint in some patients only about half of the time. Stem cells that aren’t in the knee will have no effect on the knee. The accuracy in other joints is often worse, because the joints are smaller or have more soft-tissue.

The diagrams above are from a recent study where the stem cells were placed blindly into the joint (intra-articular) versus exactly on the lesion (local adherent). The control was just injection of saline, which is far left. Notice that the purple stained cells on the surface are new cartilage cells (the blue cells under that are bone). The control shows little change. The intra-articular blind injection isn’t much better, and when the cells are placed directly on the specific damaged spot within the joint (far right local adherent) we see good cartilage repair. The same would hold true to injecting cells into a specific tendon, ligament, part of a meniscus, labrum, etc.

Additionally, one problem for collecting bone marrow stem cells is that the area at the back of the hip where they are harvested has some pitfalls. If the doctor performs this type of collection without imaging guidance (blind without using either fluoroscopy or ultrasound), the chance of taking cells from the wrong area goes up dramatically. In this area of the back of the hip, there’s a paper thin part of the pelvis that if tapped by the doctor, will almost always result in a blood collection only, rather than a bone marrow aspirate. Precision is the key to a Regenexx physician’s ability to maximize stem cells during the harvesting procedure. Regenexx physicians recently lectured on this issue to other physicians at the ICMS conference in Las Vegas.

Regenexx physicians leverage the power of advanced imaging guidance to ensure the best possible outcomes for our patients.

Highly Skilled Lab Technicians vs. Automated Bedside Centrifuge

regenexx_sdMedical practices offering stem cell therapies fall into distinct categories. In the majority of practices around the United States, an off-the-shelf bedside centrifuge is used to spin down samples. The advantage of this type of simple set-up for stem cell procedures is that it’s inexpensive for a doctor to get started. The downside is that it produces a much less sophisticated stem cell concentrate than can be produced by a skilled Regenexx lab technician.

Utilizing our latest proprietary multi-tier processing technique, all of our Regenexx Network Provider locations are capable of harvesting, processing and reinjecting five to seven times the stem cell concentrations that are produced by a standard bedside centrifuge.

While this process is more costly than bedside centrifuges, our focus is on producing the best possible patient outcomes. Our Regenexx-SD+ protocol is the most advanced stem cell procedure offered in the United States today.

All Patients are Tracked in a Patient Registry for Outcomes and Complications

stem cell registryA registry is simply a way to track a patient’s outcome and possible complications. The most common registries have been for bone marrow transplantation. In addition, in many countries, joint replacements are tracked through a registry. Many clinics offering stem cell therapy fail to provide enough tracking for patients. Some have noted that few if any clinics actually follow-up on patients at set time periods to determine the outcome of the procedure and make sure no complications have occurred. This is one of the criticisms leveled by scientists at stem cell clinics; rather than collecting all the data about their therapies (in a process like a registry) and reporting that data (when appropriate sample sizes have been obtained) in peer reviewed publications, most tend to cherry pick positive results and ignore negative results. The physicians who perform the Regenexx procedure have always required all patients to be extensively tracked. The reason? This data is invaluable not only to us, but to the world. As we collect more and more data in this registry, the true benefit and possible complications of stem cell therapies will be known. In addition, more importantly, they will be published. The physicians practicing the Regenexx family of procedures have published on the safety of their procedures in the National Library of Medicine and continue to collect data on all Regenexx procedures. So if you’re considering getting stem cell therapy for an orthopedic condition, your first question should be, how do you collect data? A simple phone call from a nurse after the procedure isn’t enough. If the clinic doesn’t use a registry to collect data and track patients for the long-haul, you should ask why.

Physician Leaders in Orthopedic Stem Cell Research and Publications

We are the physician leaders in stem cell therapy for orthopedic injuries in terms of research presentations, publications, and academic achievements. Take a look at the Research section of our site for published research, or browse the Blog and Recent Results section to see frequently updated reports on patient outcomes and summarized studies from our patient registry.