Exciting breakthroughs in using your animal’s own stem cells as a treatment alternative for specific conditions, have led us to partner with Vet-Stem, Inc. so that we are able to offer this cutting-edge option to you and your pet. At the current time, stem cell regenerative therapy is being used to improve the quality of life for patients with osteoarthritis (by decreasing pain and increasing comfort), and to promote and speed healing of soft tissue orthopedic injuries and of fractures.
Q: What are stem cells?
A: They are your pet’s own primitive cells that are capable of dividing and differentiating into a variety of other cell types, such as cartilage, bone or muscle. Stem cells, injected into an area of injury or damage, receive signals to differentiate into the types of cells needed for healing and regeneration of the damaged area.
Q: Where do the stem cells in this therapy come from?
A: We use stem cells harvested from your animal’s own fat. These are not the controversial embryonic stem cells you may have heard about in the news.
Q: How does the process work?
A: If you and your veterinarian decide that your pet is a good candidate for stem cell therapy, your pet will be admitted to the hospital for harvesting fat cells. This is a procedure that is performed under anesthesia. The procedure time is typically short and your pet should be able to go home the same day.
The harvested fat cells are sent overnight to the Vet-Stem laboratory so that they can be processed, concentrated, and isolated. The cells are then returned to us by overnight delivery. Your pet would then return to us, 48 hours from the original harvesting procedure, for a short sedation and injection of the stem cells into the appropriate area.
Q: Is it safe?
A: Yes. Since the cells come from and are returned back to the same animal, there is almost no risk of rejection or reaction. Although the chance of post-treatment inflammation is minimal, the process of injecting a tendon or joint with any substance carries some minor risk. Also, both the harvesting of the fat and the injection of the processed stem cells require the use of anesthesia and/or sedation, so there is the risk that comes with any use of anesthesia. Smith Ridge uses the most modern and safe anesthesia, but you and your veterinarian will need to discuss the specific risks that might apply to your pet.
Q: How much will it cost?
A: Your veterinarian will provide you with a written estimate, but, in general, cost will run between $2,500 and $4,000. Your animal’s size, weight and condition are all factors. Additionally, the charges include the anesthesia, surgeon’s time, overnight shipping to and from Vet-Stem, and the Vet-Stem service which includes sample processing, cell purification, initial treatment, and one year of cell banking (if cell yield permits).
Q: How many treatments are involved?
A: The number of stem cells varies per patient. The benefit from a single injection may last from several months to over a year. If the yield of stem cells from the original fat harvest is sufficient, Vet-Stem “banks” the extra cells for free for one year so that repeat injections can be given without requiring additional harvesting.