Stem cells are being used to help dogs and cats with many different problems, the strongest current evidence supports their use for pain and disability due to tendon and joint problems and healing tendon injuries. They can be effective when other traditional therapies have failed to restore quality of life. They are also being used for spinal conditions such as lumbosacral disease.
During stem cell therapy a small tissue sample is harvested, the stem cells are extracted and implanted into the diseased joint or tissue. This procedure is carried out at the Vale Referrals hospital under full aseptic conditions.
Conditions which have been treated with stem cells:
- Degenerative Diseases
- Tendon injuries or tendinopathies
- Ligament Injuries
- Hip and elbow dysplasia
- Certain spinal conditions such as spondylosis, Lumbosacral disease and intervertebral disc disease.
- Fracture Repair
- Osteochondral Defects
What do stem cells do?
- When stem cells are injected in a concentrated form, they act as a conductor for tissue repair by performing a number of tasks including:
- Differentiation into surrounding tissue type e.g. Chondrocytes to form new cartilage.
- Activation of surrounding resident stem cells
- Recruitment of other cell types, release of cytokines and growth factors to accelerate healing and tissue repair
- Regulation of inflammatory cytokines to reduce inflammation
- Stimulate new blood supply
- Protect cells from death
- Create a biological scaffold for healing tissues by forming extracellular maxtrix
- Reduction and/ or elimination of scar tissue/fibrosis.
- Immune modulation
Use in tendon and ligament injuries
Tendon and ligament injuries are very common in active dogs and can take a long time to heal due to poor blood supply. Conservative treatment allows for scar tissue formation which predisposes to re-injury or further degeneration resulting from decreased strength and flexibility. SCT heals the tendon or ligament injury through regeneration and elimination of fibrosis and scar tissue. Ultrasound guidance is used to target the stem cells directly into the site of injury and will also be used to monitor the repair process. Regenerative medicine is able to completely heal a tendon or ligament and with integrity uncompromised by scar tissue, patients are able to return to full activity and function.
Examples of commonly treated tendons and ligaments:
- Supraspinatus tendon
- Biceps tendon
- Iliopsoas tendon
- Achilles tendon
- Carpal, tarsal and stifle collateral ligament
- Cranial cruciate ligament (partial tear)
For severe tendon and ligament injuries that have resulted in ruptures or complete tears, surgical intervention is required. However, injecting stem cells around the damage will result in regeneration of fibres rather than scar tissue formation which strengthens the repair.
Stem cell therapy has been used to treat small numbers of the following conditions in animals, please contact us for further information
- Renal failure
- Chronic nephritis
- Liver failure Liver cancer
- Auto-immune disease
- Lupoid onychodystrophy
- Skin defects
- Allergic skin disease
- Feline diabetes
- Feline gingivitis stomatitis complex
- Nerve damage
- Feline infectious peritonitis (FIP)
- Pulmonary Fibrosis
Stem cells are best used alongside a program of rehabilitation supported by therapies such as laser, chiropractic physiotherapy and hydrotherapy. This helps the body to adjust to the new movement within the joint or tendon and restores strength to atrophied tissue. We offer such therapies at pet rehab or can work with your existing therapists if required to design a rehabilitation program tailored to your pet’s needs.