Stem Cell Therapy for Spine Surgery

by admin on November 24, 2010

Rick Perry Stem Cell Spine Surgery

Republican party candidate Rick Perry underwent experimental stem cell surgery for a herniated disc.


Stem Cell Therapy for Spine Surgery

Spinal surgery for spinal stenosis often involves fusion, using either an autograft, where bone is taken from the patient themselves, or an allograft, where donor-derived bone is used. A combination of the two is sometimes used, where the structural piece of bone used as the main graft material is packed with some of the patients’ own bone removed as part of the procedure itself. This is thought to give the graft a better success rate in terms of fusion, and represents a very basic form of stem cell therapy. Stem cell therapy has been used for many years in this kind of surgery, although it is rarely thought of in the context of cutting edge technology as it relies on the same principles as bone-marrow transplants which have become standard practice in some conditions.

In 2011 stem cell therapy with spine surgery hit the headlines as Republican nominee candidate Rick Perry underwent an experimental stem cell spine surgery procedure, purportedly out of the country due to regulations in the US preventing his treatment closer to home. Whether his stem cell back surgery affected his performances in candidate debates is still unknown. Whereas Rick Perry’s stem cell surgery involved injections of stem cells into his spine after back surgery, more routine stem cell spine surgery concentrates on the use of bone grafts.

World’s First Stem Cell Spine Surgery?

Albee is thought to be the first surgeon to use bone taken from the patient themselves to perform spinal stabilization – surprisingly, perhaps, this took place in 1911. In the same year, Hibbs also documented cases where he used bone taken from a patient’s iliac crest to correct spinal tuberculosis. Recent advances in the sourcing of stem cells has major implications for the success of procedures and the development of less invasive methods of treating such things as disc herniation, cervical facet joint disease, and other degenerative spinal conditions.

Stem Cell Injections Spine Surgery

Stem Cell Injections - Spine Surgery

Clinical Trials Using Stem Cells

Stem cell clinical trials are underway looking at the potential for new delivery mechanisms, new stem cell sourcing, and culturing, and optimizing and their effects on successful rehabilitation and recovery of pathology in the spine. Treatments for disc regeneration may not be far away with several companies vying for the first marketable stem cell product approved for non-surgical, injection therapy to heal damaged discs and restore intervertebral height without the need for invasive intervention. Osteocel, Trinity Evolution, and NeoFuse are all names to watch in this area with trials either recruiting or already underway utilizing stem cells in spine conditions. Regenexx are also conducting trials using stem cell injections to treat disc herniations (pictured). Patients with spinal stenosis facing spinal surgery may wish to discuss these treatments with their consultant in order to assess their eligibility, should they be so inclined, to take part in those trials actively recruiting participants for stem cell therapy for spine surgery.

UPDATE – May 2012: Biotechnology company Mesoblast Ltd. is recruiting patients with degenerative disc disease for a trial looking at stem cell therapy for chronic lumbar back pain.

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Brandon November 22, 2011 at 7:57 pm

So is it likely that scientist will figure out a way to treat congenital cervical spinal stenosis? I am 17 and my athletic career was cut short because I was diagnosed with it. I still am in love with sports and it is hard because I cant enjoy them like most other people my age. So right now I am really crossing my fingers for something in the near future.

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Herbert Eusebio March 22, 2012 at 1:57 am

Im 34 and diagnosed with cervical stenosis, im from the Philippines, right now there were two companies offering stem cell therapy based on adipose or fat, their current charge were $12, 500 usd. i dont know if im going to give it a try since it is very expensive and according to some research this is at an early stage, it means that it is not a guarantee if it really works..im afraid my money will put to waste and yet no positivce result.

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Daryl Wynn May 23, 2012 at 8:33 pm

I have lumbar spinal stenosis. When I stand up for more than a few minutes my butt and calves start to go numb.Will stem cell treatment help reduce the area around the spinal cord so I can get some relief? Daryl Wynn

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LMatthews May 29, 2012 at 1:32 pm

Hi Daryl,

If your spinal stenosis is caused by degenerative disc disease then you may qualify for the stem cell trial currently recruiting participants… although they are looking more for those with chronic lower back pain rather than leg pain or claudication. There are also trials going ahead looking at incomplete spinal cord injury that hold promise for patients such as yourself… we’re keeping a close eye on developments so as to let you, and others like you, know as soon as any stem cell treatments for spinal stenosis are approved for general use.

Wishing you all the best,

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Patricia Lane July 2, 2012 at 8:47 pm

Hi Daryl,

I too have lumbar spinal stenosis as well as osteoarthritis. I have found that acupuncture really helps but it can be expensive and you do need to make sure you find a good acupunturist. I am waiting to see if stem cell treatment will help rather than another surgery.
Good luck to you.

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