5 Questions to Ask Your Physician When Considering a Regenerative “Stem Cell” Procedure

It’s important to be well-informed before making any medical decision. If implemented by a professional well versed in the process, who follows best practices, regenerative orthopedic procedures can be the solution to many structural or health issues. Regenerative orthopedics is one application of bone marrow concentrate, where stem cells are concentrated,  which holds the potential of achieving positive results.

No matter what the reason you are considering non-surgical alternatives, at Regenexx Tampa Bay, we want you to be informed, so you can achieve the best possible results. So we put together this list of questions you will want to be sure to ask your physician before making a decision regarding treatment that involves “stem cells.

We have also addressed some questions in reference to our practice. If you want to know more, please let us know. 

1. How experienced are you and what is your specialty?

How many regenerative orthopedic procedures has the doctor you are considering performed?

Want to choose the best professional for the type of regenerative orthopedic treatment you are seeking? Ask the physician (NOT a physician’s assistant or nurse practitioner) how experienced they are in regenerative orthopedics. .

How many procedures have been performed on patients with conditions similar to yours?  Is the doctor also a specialist in the type of problem you are experiencing? That’s the optimal combination for assuring your treatment will be a success. 

What special skills does the doctor possess?

Look for a provider with extensive training in guided injections, including ultrasound or fluoroscopy, particularly if you are seeking bone marrow concentrate (BMC) procedures for joint issues. It’s essential that cellular injections are administered with precision. Board-certified physicians specializing in sports medicine, physical medicine, or interventional pain treatment, have received the specialized training needed to perform injection-based care for joints. 

In reference to surgical procedures, surgeons typically consider themselves an expert, once they have done a procedure two hundred or more times. Many clinics keep track of the total number of procedures they have performed, since the process was first offered, including blood platelet procedure numbers.

2. How do you know a regenerative medicine procedure is right for me?

Some patients are not suited for cellular therapy. A knowledgeable and conscientious physician will be aware of that fact, and will be honest with patients. He or she will review your background information thoroughly and will be honest about whether you are a good candidate. 

The medication factor should be addressed:

Cell health is of primary importance. Certain common medications may harm the health of your cells. A well-qualified physician will review any prescription medications you are taking. If you are on a drug which may interfere will cell health, your doctor should let you know whether it is safe for you to stop taking it before you receive an injection of stem cells. He or she will let you know how soon it may be resumed without jeopardizing the outcome of the effect of receiving the cells. 

Steroids, when injected into the joints in massive doses, kill cartilage and healthy cells, including stem cells. Be sure your provider is aware there should be a six to twelve week separation between any steroid injection and a regenerative procedure. 

Additionally, you should make certain the provider does not plan to use common local anesthetics – lidocaine or bupivacaine/marcaine. These kill our body’s stem cells. 

3. What type of regenerative cells are used – and how are they obtained?

Type matters – very much

The type of cells used matters a great deal. It means the difference between the likelihood of a positive outcome and a less-positive to completely ineffective, potentially risky and dangerous treatment. 

Published studies demonstrate that mesenchymal stem cells are the most effective for orthopedic repair, including cartilage and tendon tissue. The richest source of mesenchymal stem cells is bone marrow.

Some providers use non-living cells from others. Regenexx utilizes your own living cells, from bone marrow, during a same-day injection. 

Aspirating techniques make a difference

Bone Marrow Aspiration is a critical step in the regenerative medicine procedure process. The technique for extracting cellular material differs depending on the source. Bone marrow aspiration is required to obtain cells from bone marrow.

Extensive experience and image guidance is needed to properly perform a bone marrow aspiration. Otherwise, there is a significant risk of aspirating blood without stem cells, rather than bone marrow with stem cells. Additionally, the physician must aspirate from more than one site, in order to obtain a significant yield of cells.

4. How do you ensure the quality of the cells you use?

Special aspiration guidelines, like those followed by Regenexx, make certain the cells chosen are of the highest possible quality; that they are uncontaminated. Proper handling techniques and a single day process keep the cells healthy until they are injected.

Ask for an explanation of how the cells are harvested and checked for quality and number. Inquire about the prevention techniques utilized to keep the cells pure. 

5. Who will perform the injection – How will the cells be placed?

Some providers use nurses, physicians assistants or technicians. At Regenexx, our specialists who perform this medical injection are experienced and highly trained orthopedic physicians. 

Cells must be accurately injected into the proper part of the damaged or degenerated area. A little more than one-eighth inch’s variation can mean the difference between continued pain and suffering and a successful outcome. Three options exist for placing regenerative material:

  1. Blind injection.
  2. Shotgun approach.
  3. Marksman technique.

Which sounds more effective? You’re right: Number three would be the best choice. Yet over 50 percent of clinics practice blind injection. So this is a question which must be asked. 

The placement of the “stem cells” or platelet rich plasma (PRP) is of prime importance. Regenexx’s precise image guidance performed by skilled professional orthopedic physicians offers optimal opportunity for a beneficial outcome. Our goal is to use the marksman method to make certain the pure, unadulterated, quality cells hit their mark so they have the best chance to help patients function more efficiently and feel better.

Our physicians are always open to questions from prospective patients regarding how Regenexx can bring hope for improvement through regenerative orthopedic procedures. Contact us.

About The Author
Ron Torrance II, DO FAOASM

Ron Torrance II, DO FAOASM

Ronald Torrance II, DO FAOASM, is a non-surgical orthopedic physician specializing in Sports Medicine at Regenexx® at New Regeneration Orthopedics.
Ron Torrance II, DO FAOASM

Ron Torrance II, DO FAOASM

Ronald Torrance II, DO FAOASM, is a non-surgical orthopedic physician specializing in Sports Medicine at Regenexx® at New Regeneration Orthopedics.

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