Stem cells are undifferentiated cells that can grow and differentiate into many types of cells, with much promise for treating a variety of diseases and injuries. Stem cells can differentiate into many cell types as they develop, including bone, cartilage, nerves, muscle, and so on. Thus, treatment using stem cells is termed “regenerative medicine” and has many potential uses for a wide variety of diseases and injuries.
In veterinary medicine, stems cells can be acquired by harvesting fat (adipose derived stem cells) or bone marrow (bone marrow derived stem cells). Adipose tissue is often utilized because it is readily available and can be collected in large concentrations in the standing, sedated patient. A company by the name of Vet Stem in California is the only laboratory capable of processing the adipose tissue and generating stem cells. Veterinarians must be credentialed by Vet-Stem before using this service. The doctors at South Shore Equine Clinic have been certified by Vet Stem to perform this procedure.
First, the horse is given a mild sedative. The area next to the tail head is blocked using a local anesthetic and aseptically prepared. Under sterile conditions, a small vertical incision is made and the skin is undermined to expose adipose tissue (fat) which collects there (Figure 1).
Fat is harvested and placed into sterile conical tubes for processing. (Figures 2, 3) Only about two tablespoons of adipose tissue are needed. The incision is closed and a stent bandage is placed over the site (Figures 4,5).
Once the sample is collected, it is shipped overnight in specialized packaging to the Vet-Stem laboratory. The next day, the stem cells are collected from the adipose tissue and shipped back to the veterinarian via overnight service. The next day (day 3), the veterinarian injects the cells into the injured tissue or joint of the patient (Figure 6, 7).
We have utilized stem cells successfully in the treatment of joint, bone and ligament injuries of horses. The harvested fat often results in numerous doses of stem cells. The extra doses can be stored and utilized in the future for use in the same or in a new problem.
Typical Cost of Stem Cell Harvesting and Processing:
Local anesthesia and surgical prep and pack fee: $75
Surgery to harvest adipose tissue and Vet Stem lab processing fee: $2250
*Anti-inflammatory medication (Phenylbutazone or Banamine) and a 3 days course of antibiotics may be prescribed post operatively.
Stem cells are recovered and returned in 48-72 hours. Clients may choose to leave their horse at the clinic during this time; return to the clinic as an outpatient or have the treatment performed at the farm.
Stem Cell recovery and injection: $250
**Additional sedation and local anesthesia may be required.
Stem cell harvesting, processing recovery and injection can be performed as an outpatient office visit or on the farm. Please contact us if you are interested in Stem Cell therapy for your horse.