Stem Cell therapy is at the leading edge of treatment for osteoarthritis, tendon, and ligament damage. Valley Farm Animal Hospital is currently one of only a handful of veterinary practices in South Africa able to perform this groundbreaking body-friendly treatment. Pets with multiple joint arthritis, or those with inoperable joint conditions, make good candidates for Stem Cell Therapy, as do those who cannot tolerate the painkillers normally used for these conditions.
This is a day procedure, and due to the fact that only the pet’s own tissues are used, there are no marked adverse reactions. It is important that the pet is fully examined before we perform the procedure as not every patient will benefit, or indeed even require this therapy. Older pets may need blood tests and X-rays to be sure they will be okay, and not be put at unnecessary risk. The pet will require a short anesthetic so we can harvest the adipose (fat) tissue, which is similar to a spay in terms of the surgery. Any area with sufficient fat can be harvested, but we generally take samples from the normally abundant falciform fat (found just inside the belly).
When we have the sample it takes approximately three hours in our lab to process, extract, and activate the stem cells. The sample, when processed, amounts to about two mililitres, and contains an average of 200 million stem cells.
The stem cells can then be injected back into the pet. We use a method of splitting the sample and injecting these into affected joints, with the balance being injected intravenously. Scientific studies have been performed to show that stem cells are attracted to areas of inflammation within the body, and even if only injected into a leg vein, a large number of stem cells will find their way to a joint with osteoarthritis. This means they even treat the not so obvious problem areas.
Improvement will be seen as early as seven days after the procedure and will be ongoing for up to five weeks. The modus operandi of the stem cells is one of reducing pain and inflammation in the joints for up to two and a half years, and not of rebuilding the joint cell by cell.
Currently, the reported statistics worldwide indicate that 80% of the patients will show improvement with this therapy. To date we have treated over fifty patients with stem cells and are seeing similar results to those published worldwide.