What is Involved in a Cellular Therapy Treatment?

So you are thinking about cellular therapy and you want to know what is involved.

  • Do you have to go to a hospital?
  • Will you need general anesthesia?
  • Will the recovery times be long and painful?

The answer to all of the questions is NO!

Cellular therapy treatments involve no hospital stay, no need for general anesthesia and no need for prolonged, painful recoveries.

Lets take a few minutes to explain what will be involved.

First you must be seen in office

I know this sounds crazy, but there are many clinics that “sell” stem cell treatments in a seminar setting, signing the patient up for a procedure without ever having taken a history or having done a physical exam.

Southcoast is not like that. We have board certified physicians, with much training and experience treating joint and spine disease. Our doctors will need to see and examine the patient, make sure that the issue is in fact what the patient believes it is and not something different, and then determine what option is best. It is possible that may be a recommendation for surgery.

You will need imaging studies

If you have not already had imaging studies, we may need to order x-rays or MRI. Based on your history, location of pain, and your examination, we will decide which, if any,  imaging studies are required. If you already have had such studies, then please bring them to the initial visit. If they need to be ordered, we will review them with you on your follow up visit.

Most often such studies confirm our diagnosis, and help us to be certain we are treating the proper cause of pain.  However, they may also help us decide if you are a good candidate for cellular therapy, and if so what approach is best.

We will ask you to refrain from certain medications

Prior to the procedure, we will ask you to:

  • stop taking aspirin and non-steroidal medications like motrin, well in advance
  • scrub with antibacterial soap
  • wear loose fitting clothing
  • make us aware of any allergies
  • take any pain medications or sedatives prescribed
  • STOP any blood thinners several days in advance
  • drink more water than usual

The actual procedure is done in office under guidance

For these procedures, no trip to the hospital is required.

The procedure is typically done in office, most often using ultrasound guidance.

Ultrasound is used for location of the posterior iliac crest, and subsequent aspiration of the mesenchymal cells. It is also used in shoulder, knee and hip procedures for identification of the typical landmarks, and guidance of the injections.

In some cases, such as spine procedures, you will need to be placed on a table and a Fluoroscope x-ray will be used for guidance to allow specific targeted injections in the proper disc, ligaments, or posterior column structures.  There is no pain involved in the imaging and the injections are done using local anesthesia, which minimizes discomfort.

Supraspinatus muscle in shoulder

Aspiration and injection of cells involves minimal pain

We aspirate your cells from the hip bone near your buttocks. You are most often lying on your stomach during this part of the procedure. This aspiration takes about 5-10 minutes and involves only minimal pain.

Once the cells are obtained, they must be processed. This takes about 30-40 minutes and most often you will simply be resting on the bed during this time.

After the cells are properly processed, they are injected in the appropriate areas. We use small amounts of local anesthesia prior to the injections. In some instances, such as cases of knee arthritis with subchondral edema, the cells may be combined with other agents such as bone matrix, in order to provide the best chance of success.

What happens when the injections are finished?

Once the procedure is complete, small bandages will be applied. You will be watched in the office for 30 minutes or more, then assuming you are doing well, you will be discharged home in the care of your driver. Patients are asked not to drive themselves.

You will be given contact numbers, and we will follow up with you via phone the next morning. We will see you back in the office in 3-4 weeks and will expect you to begin to gain improvement by 12-16 weeks!

Cellular therapy is a reasonable option for many causes of spine and joint pain.  Contact us and let us help you decide which approach is best for you.