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The Stem Cell Alternative to Hip Replacement Surgery

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Osteoarthritis related image Photo: Getty Images

Hip replacement operations, although routine, involve a long period of recovery afterward, and the artificial joint is not permanent. Depending upon the person’s activity level, an artificial hip joint will last between 10 and 20 years before the person needs another operation. This is called a revision.

Revision surgeries are often less successful and provide less relief than the original surgery. If the person is young when he/she needs a hip replacement, he/she may need several operations in his/her lifetime.

For these reasons, the medical community is beginning to look at alternatives to hip replacements. Stem cells have been found to be beneficial. The patient has stem cells injected into their hip (or other affected joint) and they help the body repair itself and even re-grow new bone.

The subject of stem cell transplantation has been a source of controversy since some stem cell therapies originate from embryos. This is morally objectionable to some. Embryonic stem cells are often unstable and can develop into cancer after they have been injected and there is a chance of disease transfer from the embryo to the recipient.

However, researchers are now working on a way of giving patients stem cells that have been extracted from their own bone marrow and using this instead.

Doctors at a private Spire Hospital in Southampton, UK, gave six patients stem cell injections derived from their own bone marrow. There was one failure and the other five patients had an improvement in their condition. One patient, Carl Millard, said he could walk normally again after the procedure.

“I feel great. If this can prevent people having to have a hip replacement, I think it is wonderful.”

Doctors in the U.S. are also using the technique as an alternative to joint replacements. A hand full of clinics are providing the service. Christopher J. Centeno, M.D., has treated more than 200 patients at his clinic in Bloomfield, Colorado, and says, “Two thirds of them reported greater than 50 percent relief and about 40 percent reported more than 75 percent relief one to two years afterward.”

Some clinics are offering stem cell transplantation as an alternative to hip replacement for a fee (as the procedure is so new it is not yet approved by the FDA or covered by insurance, although you may be able to get insurance to cover your initial consultation).

For more information, see the ABC News Program on alternatives to knee replacement: http://abcnews.go.com/Health/GMAHealth/stem-cell-treatment-ease-osteoarthritis-pain-offer-alternative/story?id=13550160

The Telegraph, 1st September 2009 - http://www.telegraph.co.uk/health/healthnews/6118220/New-stem-cell-treatment-being-used-by-patients-to-avoid-hip-replacements.html
ABC News, Stem Cells: Alternative to Knee Replacement?, 9th May 2011 - http://abcnews.go.com/Health/GMAHealth/stem-cell-treatment-ease-osteoarthritis-pain-offer-alternative/story?id=13550160
Regenexx™ Clinic Hip Surgery Alternative, page accessed 23rd July 2011 - http://www.regenexx.com/the-regenexx-procedures/hip-surgery/
Embryonic Stem Cells can Cause Cancer

Reviewed July 25, 2011
by Michele Blacksberg R.N.
Edited by Shannon Koehle

Joanna is a freelance health writer for The Mother magazine and Suite 101 with a column on infertility, http://infertility.suite101.com/. She is author of the book, 'Breast Milk: A Natural Immunisation,' and co-author of an educational resource on disabled parenting, in addition to running a charity for people damaged by vaccines or medical mistakes.

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.


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