In recent years, there has been an increase in the use of stem cell injections as regenerative medicine. Popularly, this therapy treats orthopedic injuries, such as chronic tendon injuries and cartilage injuries. Similarly, the physicians are still working on finding treatments for various damages due to sport.
Types of stem cell injections
- Bone marrow aspirate concentrate(BMAC) is a therapy that increases the speed of healing. This is due to the natural ability of stem cells to repair the damaged areas. Bone marrow donates a large part of these cells in the injections. BMAC uses the patients’ own stem cells and is classified as ‘autologous’ stem cell therapy. Using this type of stem cell injection as renewing medicine helps in giving positive end results. This also doesn’t raise any moral concerns about using embryonic cells. In addition, using their own stem cells lowers the risk of infection and the chances of immune rejection.
- Lipo-aspirate(stem cell from fats) is a treatment that holds a specific promise in the field of using it as a medicine for the regrowth of tissues. Adipose tissues are an excellent source of stem cells as they can transform themselves into numerous cells. Minimally invasive procedure hence required to get large quantities of these stem cells from adipose tissue.
How stem cells are harvested?
Several areas in the human body are a source of stem cells. As an autologous stem cell injection, the patient first goes through a procedure to collect stem cells. During this procedure, for BMAC, doctors extract bone marrow from the hip region. A machine circulates the bone marrow which divides the blood into various parts, such as stem cells, white blood cells, and platelets.
Lastly, to promote the development of injured tissues, doctors inject stem cells as a source of medicine.
Use of stem cell injections
Doctors recommend stem cell injections as an alternative to other treatments that have not been successful. They may treat:
- Cartilage injuries
- Tendon injuries
- Non-union fractures
- Degenerative joint conditions, such as osteoarthritis
Risks of stem cell injections
Injections may cause infection, bleeding, clotting, or nerve damage. Risk also depends on the structure being injected. However, the treatment being autologous, the risks are extremely low. These include allergic reactions and rejection of the tissue. For more precision, the use of ultrasound reduces the risk of damaging the surrounding structures as well as injecting in the wrong location. To conclude, the overall risk is extremely low.
NOTE: Currently stem cell injections as regenerative medicine still are experimental.
The researchers believe that hopefully, these injections have a promising future in the field of treatments.
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