Bone marrow derived stem cell procedures require an aspiration from the patient’s iliac crest (pelvis). Studies have shown a 29% incidence of chronic pain from the aspiration procedure along with potential for additional complications such as nerve/vessel injury, bowel perforation, fracture.
In addition, as one ages the quantity and quality of stem cells obtainable from the bone marrow drops exponentially. It is illegal in the US to culture one’s bone marrow to amplify cell counts. At birth, 1 in 10,000 cells in one’s bone marrow is a stem cell. This drops to 1 in 2 million by age 70. No matter how much one’s bone marrow is concentrated, the cell counts are a problem.
Adipose derived stem cell procedures require a mini-liposuction from the abdomen or buttock. The first problem with this is that plenty of patients simply do NOT have significant adipose tissue to spare.
The second problem with adipose procedures is interesting. Adipose tissue contains VERY HIGH numbers of stem cells. However, once the adipose is processed and moved to your area of treatment, over 80% of them die within two days. So, they do not even get a chance to help!
Studies have shown that bone marrow aspiration procedures have a high incidence of complications. Twenty nine percent of patients end up with chronic pain, which is a real problem when the objective is to rid patients of pain. Can you imagine that conversation, “Hey doc my knee feels awesome but what did YOU DO TO MY HIP!”
Additional complications reported from bone marrow aspirations include infection, bleeding, nerve/vessel injury, bowel perforation, pelvic fracture.
The mini-liposuction procedure does not have a high incidence of complications. However, as mentioned, most of the stem cells from that procedure die within 48 hours. Real bummer.
The umbilical cord tissue/blood material could cause a rejection reaction if not treated properly. As an example, if one receives a blood transfusion from an incompatible donor the blood will be rejected with a potentially very serious reaction. To prevent that from happening, all red blood cells are removed from the umbilical cord blood. This removes the HLA factors and prevents the Graft versus Host reaction.
Amniotic and umbilical materials are very consistent. When the processing occurs at first rate labs certified by the FDA, the number of cells is very high and extremely consistent. Unlike adipose and bone marrow, where the cell counts drop big time with aging and the quality of those cells diminishes as well.
One thing that should be noted is the MYTH that there are no live cells in processed amniotic fluid. The FDA does not require the material to be radiated, and if a low amount of preservative is used the cells survive the processing. In addition, cryopreservation does not kill cells. (If it did, egg donor programs would go out of business.) So, labs that don’t radiate and use minimal preservative get plenty of live cells!
There are too many studies to count looking at the effectiveness of amniotic/umbilical tissue to treat musculoskeletal conditions. Pubmed.com is a great source of data and we have listed some excellent references at the bottom of this Guide.
When you look at the very high Benefit profile and the very low Risk profile of these materials, in medicine that is called a HOME RUN!