Recently, one of the more exciting and innovative areas of veterinary medicine is the development of stem cell therapy for the treatment of degenerative joint conditions or “arthritis” in dogs. Also known as regenerative medicine, the technique is a rather simple one. Your veterinarian harvests stem cells from your pet. This is most commonly obtained by removing some fat from the abdomen through an incision much like a spay incision. This tissue is then sent to a lab where the stem cells are extracted and purified, frozen, then returned to the veterinarian within 48 hours where it is then placed in the joint of the patient by way of a needle.
Stem cells are basically primitive cells that have the potential to become any other type of cell. The cell they become is determined by the area in which they are placed. Thus when using them to treat arthritic conditions and placing them in the joint, they become cartilage cells. They then help fill in the microscopic defects in the joint surface that occurs over your pet’s life and leads to the discomfort associated with joint degeneration. Additionally, these stem cells produce compounds which work locally to counter inflammation and stimulate vascularization of the local environment.
Regenerative medicine is not for every patient with arthritis but it is an alternative for those that do not respond to more traditional approaches. Feel free to contact me if you have any questions about this procedure.