Stem Cell Therapy
Stem cell therapy is an innovative approach to treat chronic conditions in both our canine and feline patients. Oftentimes, chronic conditions require long-term medication for ongoing management. Stem cell therapy offers the opportunity for: 1) a greater quality of life and 2) elimination of potential side effects of long-term medication. Bellevue Animal Clinic has partnered with MediVet Biologics to offer our patients from Opelousas and the surrounding areas the advanced technology of stem cell therapy and the compassionate care of a greater quality of life.
What is a Stem Cell?
Stem cells are the body’s repair cells. They are powerful healing cells in your body that can become other types of cells. There are two basic types of stem cells; adult (somatic) and embryonic.
Adult stem cells are multipotent, which means they can differentiate into multiple different tissues, such as skin, fat, muscle, bone and cartilage. Adult stem cells are found in organs and tissues, such as bone marrow, adipose tissue (fat), skin, liver, blood vessels, and neurons. There are no moral or ethical concerns with harvesting adult stem cells from a patient, activating them, and reintroducing them back into the patient. The second type of stem cell is embryonic. Harvesting embryonic stem cells causes obvious moral and ethical concerns. They also have a propensity to develop into teratomas, a type of tumor, which is a major safety concern. Bellevue Animal Clinic does not and will not participate in or promote any procedure involving embryonic stem cells.
Why is Stem Cell Therapy so great?
Stem cells treat the source of the problem by becoming new tissue to replace damaged tissue. Other treatments, such as NSAIDs, opioids and joint supplements, merely attempt to reduce symptoms. There are many adult stem cells in adipose (fat) tissue, however, they are asleep. Our stem cell therapy allows us to isolate stem cells from your pet’s own adipose (fat) tissue, wake them up, and re-introduce the healing cells into the areas of need. For example, in the case of arthritis, stem cells become new cartilage cells, thus reducing pain and increasing mobility. The treatment is very low risk, because it uses the animal’s own stem cells. With MediVet’s technology, over 95% of animals treated show improvement.
Why Use Adipose Tissue?
Adult stem cells are highly concentrated in adipose tissue (fat). Fat is also readily available in large quantities and easily accessible. The technique to acquire the stem cell is less invasive and less painful than aspirating a bone marrow sample from the hip or the sternum. There are up to 1,000 times more stem cells in a gram of fat than in a gram of bone marrow. At this concentration and with MediVet’s patented technology, the procedure provides an abundance of stem cells to treat in-clinic, same day, without the need and additional expense of an outside culturing facility.
Is it safe?
Yes, this procedure is very safe. Stem cell therapy does require the surgical collection of adipose tissue so there is a small risk of general anesthesia. However, on a typical dog or cat, the adipose collection is easier and requires less time than a spay. Processing the sample is done carefully by either a registered veterinary technician or a veterinarian. MediVet’s stem cell therapy system has been used in the treatment of thousands of patients without observing negative side effects.
Describe the procedure for stem cell therapy?
First, a Bellevue Animal Clinic veterinarian will administer general anesthesia to your dog or cat. Once under anesthesia, the veterinarian will make a small incision to collect 2-4 tablespoons of fat (usually in the abdomen or, sometimes, behind the shoulder blades). Our registered veterinary technician or a veterinarian will then process the sample, right in the clinic, using the MediVet equipment. After 3 to 4 hours, the cells are ready for injection into areas of damage. In addition, some cells are administered IV. For the administration step, your dog or cat will be lightly sedated. Most patients go home that same day.
What is the recovery period, and how long does it take to see results?
We recommend that the patient be kept quiet for the first 10 days. Then, while they may feel a lot better, you will need to be careful so your pet doesn’t injure themselves until they build up some of their muscles. We have a recommended physical therapy / rehabilitation schedule for post treatment. Swimming and walking in water is great therapy. We typically see improvement starting after 3 weeks, and then continuing up to around 2 months. We will remove sutures from the collection site 7 to 10 days after the procedure. We encourage progress exams (no charge) at 1 month, 3 months and 6 months after the procedure.
What conditions do you treat?
The most common patient has osteoarthritis (hip dysplasia, degenerative joint disease, calcifications, common degeneration and inflammation), soft tissue injuries (cruciate injuries, tears, ruptures, inflammation), or needs accelerated healing of fractures. MediVet has a lot of experience with these conditions, and over 95% of these patients get better with their Stem Cell Therapy.
MediVet also treats other cases under “compassionate use”. They have less experience with these conditions, but are seeing some exciting results. Some of those conditions are: degenerative myelopathy, feline gingivitis, end-stage renal disease, liver and kidney failure, allergy, auto-immune, inflammatory bowel disease, pulmonary fibrosis, IMHA, atopy, and spine trauma. If you have questions about any of these conditions, our veterinarians at Bellevue Animal Clinic have access to a group of consulting veterinarians provided by MediVet.
How long does a treatment last? What happens if my pet starts having trouble again?
Stem cell patients using the MediVet system typically benefit from about 1-3 years of relief after the initial treatment. Most pet owners choose to bank cells, so retreatment is easy. MediVet has a banking facility in Kentucky. If symptoms return, our Bellevue Animal Clinic veterinarians merely request a dose of cells from the bank, and inject them. Surgical collection of stem cells is only required at the initial treatment.
Are there any animals that you don’t treat?
Yes. Because we don’t know exactly what happens when cancer patients are treated with stem cells based on human studies, we do not treat those patients.
What is ActiStem? from Ardent Animal Health on Vimeo.