Stem cell therapy or bone marrow aspirate therapy of cartilage damage and ankle arthritis is a revolutionary new approach to regrow cartilage in the ankle. The process can be used in any damaged joint and is most common in the knee and ankle joints.
University Foot and Ankle Institute is at the forefront of foot and ankle stem cell therapy and has been involved in extensive projects associated with stem cell therapy procedures for ankle arthritis and cartilage damage.
Obtaining stem cells from heel bone
Stem cell injection therapy of the ankle for ankle arthritis is commonly used in low grade to medium grade arthritis cases involving pateints who are not ready for a significant surgical procedure in order to try and preserve the joint. The injections are commonly given in the office setting, but may be included with an arthroscopic ankle clean up procedure in the surgery center setting.
The stem cells are taken from the shin or heel bone through a bone marrow aspiration or blood harvest from the bone. The blood product has high concentrations of stem cells which are then concentrated through a special procedure. This procedure allows for removal of all the unwanted cells in the blood leaving only the most powerful healing cells called mesenchymal stem cells. The stem cells are then injected into the ankle joint and will begin to multiply and flourish in the joint. Stem cells have been found to replicate and become whatever cells they are near. If they are near cartilage cells, they will usually begin to become new cartilage cells which are hoped to help form new cartilage in the joint. The injection also seems to have an anti-inflammatory aspect to it, which also seems to decrease joint pain.
Separating stem cells from bone marrow aspirate
In cases of limited regional cartilage damage also called talar dome lesions or osteochondral lesions of the talus, the cartilage damage may be treated with a stem cell therapy. The cells are harvested through a bone marrow aspiration and are concentrated. They are then placed on a carrier material which is usually a scaffold that will hold the cells on the cartilage damage region. During surgery, the damaged cartilage is removed and the cells and scaffold are put in the damaged region. The stem cells will then begin to differentiate into cartilage cells. This process is revolutionary as it does not require cartilage harvest from the patient and allows the patient's own body to heal the cartilage damage.
Injecting stem cells into affected area
A great deal of research on cartilage repair and arthritis therapy is being done with stem cells. University Foot and Ankle Institute will continue to stay at the forefront of stem cell therapy and its promising potential for our patients. We have already made exceptional strides in the treatment of cartilage damage and arthritis with stem cell injections, and the future will only offer better and more options. That being said, always remember that early treatment is better than waiting for something that may never come or that might be too late to treat a simple problem, especially as the problem progresses and worsens.
University Foot and Ankle Institute is highly regarded as a world class referral center for stem cell therapy of ankle and foot arthritis. Through our extensive research and our work with stem cell product developers, we are working to extend the field of arthritis care in a conservative and safe manner.