Mesenchymal Cell Therapy
What is it?
Mesenchymal cell therapy is a form of regenerative medicine that utilizes the body’s natural healing mechanism to treat various conditions.
Mesenchymal cells are being used in regenerative medicine to renew and repair diseased or damaged tissues, and have shown promising results in treatments of various orthopedic conditions.
Mesenchymal cells are present in all of us, acting like a repair system for the body. However, with increased age sometimes, the necessary amount of mesenchyal cells are not present at the injured area. The goal of mesenchymal cell therapy is to amplify the natural repair system of the patient’s body by increasing the numbers of mesenchymal cells at injury sites.
Use of Mesenchymal Cells in Orthopedics
Adult mesenchymal cells can be harvested from many areas in the body. These include adipose tissue (fat), bone marrow and peripheral blood, but most are harvested from the bone marrow. These cells have the ability to turn into cells that form the musculoskeletal system such as tendons, ligaments, and articular cartilage. To obtain cells from the bone marrow, a needle is inserted into the iliac crest of the pelvic bone to extract the cells.
Currently, mesenchymal cell therapy is used to treat various degenerative conditions of the shoulder, knees, hips, and spine. Mesenchymal cells are also being used in the treatment of various soft tissue (muscle, ligaments and tendons) as well as bone-related injuries.
Who is a Good Candidate for this Therapy?
You may be a good candidate for this therapy if you have been suffering from joint pain and want to improve your quality of life while avoiding complications related to invasive surgical procedures.
It is important that you stop taking any non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) at least two weeks before your procedure. Preparing for a mesenchymal cell procedure is relatively easy and your doctor will give you specific instructions depending on your condition.
The procedure begins with your doctor extracting mesenchymal cells from your own bone marrow. Bone marrow is usually aspirated from your hip region. Your doctor will first clean and numb your hip area. A needle is then introduced into an area of your pelvic bone known as the iliac crest. Bone marrow is then aspirated using a special syringe and the sample obtained is sent to the laboratory. In the laboratory, the aspirate is spun in a machine for 10 to 15 minutes and a concentrated cell sample is separated.
Your doctor then cleans and numbs your affected area to be treated and then, under the guidance of special X-rays, injects the cells into the diseased region. The whole procedure usually takes less than one hour and you may return home on the same day of the procedure.
You will most likely be able to return to work the next day following your procedure. You will need to take it easy and avoid any load bearing activities for at least two weeks following your procedure. You will need to refrain from taking non-steroidal, anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs) for a while as this can affect the healing process of your body.
Mesenchymal cell therapy is a relatively simple procedure that avoids the complications associated with invasive surgical procedures. As this therapy uses the cells derived from your own body, it reduces the chances of an immune rejection.
There is a general lack of data about the long-term effects of mesenchymal cell therapy as it is a newer procedure and represents a newer form of treatment.
Risks and Complications of Mesenchymal Cell Therapy
Mesenchymal cell therapy is generally considered a safe procedure with minimal complications; however, as with any medical procedure, complications can occur.
Some risks factors related to this type of therapy include infection as bacteria, viruses or other pathogens that can cause disease may be introduced during the preparation process.
The procedure to either remove or inject the cells also has the risk of introducing an infection to the damaged tissue into which they are injected. Rarely, an immune reaction may occur from injected mesenchymal cells.