Science fiction films on the topic of the future of mankind have predicted numerous technological and medical achievements. Some of these predictions are close to realization, or have already been realized in medicine. Both technologies and knowledge that were once thought to belong to the distant future are now used in standard medical protocols.
One of these revolutionary methods, stem cell treatment, is available at your fingertips at our Ribnjak Polyclinic, and just one phone call separates you from the future without the pain and functional difficulties you face day in and day out.
WHAT ARE STEM CELLS?
The human body is a fantastic and perfectly organized whole that arises from a single fertilized egg. This first cell, a microscopic whole invisible to the naked eye, multiplies and in time man emerges from it. At different stages of human growth and development, there are various specialized cells in the body capable of converting into specific cell types.
As they possess a high capacity for self-renewal as well as an exceptional potential for differentiation into different tissue types, stem cells play an essential role in all stages of development of the human organism (30). Because of their virtually unlimited potential for proliferation and self-renewal, they are considered immortal. They differentiate into different cell and tissue types through mitotic division (31).
Stem cells are divided into three basic types: embryonic stem cells, umbilical cord stem cells, and adult stem cells. Embryoniccells are present in the body in the first weeks of its growth and development. The embryo at an early stage of development consists exclusively of these cells. It is about the so-called pluripotent cells that have the highest possible potential for conversion into any type of cell – if necessary, they can form muscle, cartilage, epidermal cells, etc. As the body develops, so does the amount of these cells. Umbilical cord stem cells are found in umbilical veins and resemble embryonic stem cells in their characteristics. These are also pluripotent cells that have a slightly lower potential for transformation into different tissue types than embryonic stem cells. Finally, adultstem cells are a type of stem cell that can be isolated from different types of tissue after birth. Such cells are hematopoietic cells (cells that “create” blood) of the bone marrow, and among others, we find them in the brain and liver.
After human birth, its further growth and development, the amount of stem cells is concentrated in certain tissues – bone marrow, adipose tissue, ear cartilage, etc. These are the so-called adult multipotent mesenchymalstem cells – cells with a slightly lower potential for conversion to different cell types, but still cells with a high potential for differentiation. These cells can be used in orthopedic treatment of joints, restoration of damaged articular cartilage, but also in damage to muscles, tendons and ligaments.
It was still 2001. Dr. Zuk, together with his colleagues, proved that multipotent stem cells derived from adipose tissue can develop into cartilage, fat and bone cells. He correctly identified such stem cells as mesenchymalstem cells and created a theory about the benefits of such cells and their potential use in regenerative medicine. This discovery was followed by a kind of explosion of various scientific studies on the effect of mesenchymal stem cells, which, consequently, was accompanied by the increasingly intensive progress of regenerative medicine.
Since 2015 The director of our institution, Dr. Milan Milošević, a specialist in orthopedics and traumatology, regularly and with a high percentage of success performs this type of treatment in our Polyclinic.
HOW DO STEM CELLS WORK IN ORTHOPEDICS?
The way stem cells work includes their three basic characteristics – plasticity, differentiationand the expressionof specific markers.
When mesenchymal stem cells are found, for example, in the immediate vicinity of damaged cartilage tissue, a series of events begin that will result in the transformation of stem cells from their initial stage into exactly the type of cell needed to repair damaged tissue. Thus, by the method of applying stem cells, we give the organism the “raw material” needed for repair, and then the complete regeneration of damaged tissue.
This process is not always and everywhere successful. There are external and internal factors that can upset the delicate balance needed for cell renewal. For this reason, in the Ribnjak Polyclinic we use the parallel application of autologous conditioned plasma and mesenchymal stem cells as a standard of treatment. Platelet rich plasmacontains many so-called growth factors, which stimulate the action of applied mesenchymal stem cells and result in a better clinical finding. Namely, mesenchymal stem cells applied at the site of tissue damage often need not only the information they receive from the tissues to which they were applied, but also need to be additionally activated, where autologous conditioned plasma proved to be a phenomenal activation factor.
PREPARATION FOR THE PROCEDURE
An initial orthopedic examination is mandatory before deciding on treatment with this method. After an X-ray or MRI scan of the damaged joint or tissue, the patient is explained the treatment options at the examination. If there are all the conditions for this, an indication is set for treatment with mesenchymal stem cells. Prior to the procedure, it is necessary to do laboratory processing with an emphasis on the values of blood clotting time. Most often, mesenchymal stem cells are obtained from adipose tissue in the abdominal area, which contains the largest amount of mesenchymal stem cells, and the process itself is much simpler and less painful for the client.
After adequate preparation, local anesthetic is applied to the abdominal wall area. Using vacuum extractors, superficial liposuction of abdominal fat is performed. There is no pain during the entire procedure and one negative sensation that the patient can feel is a slight discomfort at the liposuction site. The resulting adipose tissue is then “purified” in a specially designed device until only the mesenchymal stem cells remain. At the Ribnjak Polyclinic, we use only a mechanical, not an enzymatic, method of extracting mesenchymal stem cells.
After preparation, ultrasound control is followed by application to the target site in said combination withplatelet rich plasma. With this biological therapy, the risk of possible side effects is minimal; we could even say non-existent, while the success of treatment with this method is extremely high.
WHAT ARE THE POSSIBILITIES OF STEM CELL TREATMENT?
Stem cells can treat:
- Treatment of painful conditions of joints and tendons
- Treatment of damaged cartilage of the hip, knee and ankle
- Skin regeneration and rejuvenation
- Treatment of slow healing wounds
The procedure is performed entirely under local anesthesia, after which we will keep you for about 60 minutes in our day hospital under observation under the watchful eye of your operator, after which we will release you home. Regular post-application check-ups are at regular intervals between which rehabilitation is carried out. Rehabilitation is targeted at strengthening the surrounding musculature of the joint being treated and consists of static rehabilitation with our physiotherapists and functional rehabilitation under the supervision of our kinesiologists.
What is particularly important to emphasize is the fact that the recovery time after the application of this method of treatment is shortened due to the most economical way of performing, while the possibility of inflammation or infection is minimal and the existing joint structures are preserved.
If you have doubts about this type of treatment, you are recommended to install an artificial joint, and you do not want “metal”, contact us with full confidence. Our friendly staff led by the director of the Polyclinic Dr. Milan Milošević will be happy to answer all your questions.
Your Polyclinic Ribnjak