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Stem Cells for Avascular Necrosis

What is avascular necrosis?

Avascular necrosis is an orthopedic condition where the blood supply to bone is gradually lost, leading to death and damage of bone tissue. It is a progressive condition that is usually seen in the femur (thigh bone), resulting in the collapse of the femoral head. Avascular necrosis can produce severe pain and disability. It is a multifactorial disease that may be caused by increased pressure following an injury, genetic abnormality and clotting disorders. Treatments for this condition have not been satisfactory with patients ultimately requiring a total hip replacement, which often needs to be revised in younger patients. A newer approach involves the injection of stem cells into the diseased bone.

How are stem cells used in treatment of avascular necrosis?

Stem cells are progenitor cells in your body that can multiply and differentiate into specific cell types. Stem cells are used in combination with platelet-rich plasma (concentrated platelets in blood) after a minimally invasive procedure called core decompression. Core decompression involves making small channels in the femoral head to reduce the pressure on the bone and promote blood supply to the diseased bone. Following this, a mixture of stem cells from bone marrow in your pelvis and platelets from your blood are injected into the affected bone. The use of stem cells has shown good results in slowing down and even arresting early stage avascular necrosis, delaying or avoiding the need for hip replacement.

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