Spinal Conditions

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Adipose SVF Stem Cell Therapy for Spinal Conditions

Spinal disease and conditions affects millions of Americans. Many aging people suffer from spinal arthritis, degenerative disc disease, lumbar spondylosis, and failed back surgery syndrome. Orthopedic surgeons, neurologists, and pain management specialists are now using adipose-derived stem cell therapy to treat spinal disorders. Stromal vascular fraction (SVF) is the adipose solution that contains endothelial progenitor cells, mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs), and growth factors.

What is SVF?

Stromal vascular fraction of adipose tissue is derived from lipoaspirate, which is the fluid obtained from liposuction of the fat tissue. The adipose-derived stem cells (ADSCs) are plentiful in fat tissue, and SVF with ADSCs can be used in many spinal and orthopedic applications without side effects.

How common are spinal conditions?

Around 25% of Americans have some type of low back pain. In the U.S., back pain is the fifth most common reason people visit the doctor. In a recent clinical study, chronic back pain increased by 6.3% from 1992 to 2006.

Does stem cell therapy work?

Patients are reporting significant improvement, and many clinical studies have documented this. The patient’s reports of 50% or greater pain relief are relatively consistent in the clinical studies. In one survey, 3 years after stem cell therapy for arthritis, 61% of men and 53% of women showed the overall level of improvement. After 3 treatments, the efficacy rate was 68%. In a recent clinical study, patients had 50% improvement in pain and functional scores at 2-years post stem cell injection into intervertebral discs.

What spinal conditions are treated using SVF adipose-derived stem cells?
Several spinal conditions are treated using SVF adipose-derived stem cell therapy. These include:
·      Discogenic pain – In a case study, two patients with discogenic pain received percutaneous lumbar grafts of MSC-containing collagen. The patients had increased signal intensity of discs and decreased pain scores.
·      Chronic back pain – In a study involving lumbar pain, patients receiving stem cells had decreased pain scores from 70 to 20 at 12-months post-injection. In addition, mean disability scores decreased significantly.
·      Spinal joint disease – Regarding sacroiliac joint disease, and other forms of spinal arthritis, studies show a 50% decrease in pain scores in patients treated with adipose stem cells at 6 months.
·      Degenerative disc disease – In a recent clinical study involving stem cells to repair degeneration of the disc in rabbit models, the implanted stem cells were found to have differentiated into disc cells. Other studies have shown that when the stem cells were injected into discs, they exhibited matrix-producing functionality.
How do I prepare for the stem cell procedure?

You will meet with the pain management specialist before your procedure for a consultation. Be sure to notify the doctor of all medications and supplements you are taking. Certain agents that thin the blood or interfere with the stem cell procedure must be held beforehand for a few days. The doctor will take a medical history, perform a physical examination, and take additional imaging scans.

What happens during the SVF stem cell procedure?

The adipose tissue is obtained via liposuction. After you are positioned on the procedure table, a nurse places an IV catheter in your arm to administer fluids and sedation. The targeted area (abdomen, chin, arm, thigh, or buttock) is cleaned with an antiseptic solution. The doctor numbs the region with a local anesthetic. Inserting a special cannula, the fat tissue is gently suctioned into the cannula in liquid form. The incision is closed using Steri-Strips or a Band-Aid. The solution is concentrated and processed in the laboratory before being implanted in the spine, injected into the disc, or administered through intravenous transfusion.

Resources
Chakravarthy K, Chen Y, He C, & Christo PJ (2017). Stem Cell Therapy for Chronic Pain Management: Review of Uses, Advances, and Adverse Effects. Pain Physician 2017; 20:293-305.
Drazin D, Rosner J, Avalos P, & Acosta F (2012). Stem Cell Therapy for Degenerative Disc Disease. Advances in Orthopedics. PMCID: PMC3347696
Sakai D & Andersson GBJ (2015). Stem cell therapy for intervertebral disc regenerationobstacles and solutions. Nature Reviews Rheumatology, 11, 243-256.