Stem cell therapy helps 26-yr-old man walk again

Published: 08 November, 2013 07:05 IST | Anuradha Varanasi |

Patient was diagnosed with second stage of avascular necrosis. But, instead of asking him to go for total hip replacement, doctors extracted osteoblast cells from his bone marrow and implanted them in his hip balls

When 26-year-old Prasad Sharma (name changed on request) started experiencing excruciating pain in his hip joints, doctors were baffled over what had caused such damage to his hipbones. However, instead of having to go in for a total hip replacement surgery, the young man is lucky enough to have practically had a part of his hipbones grow back, with the help of stem cell therapy.

The scan on the right shows an empty cavity, while the scan on the left shows it filled with stem cells 

“The most common reason behind avascular necrosis of both hip joints is either the use of steroids for medical or bodybuilding reasons, or excessive alcohol consumption,” said Dr Siddhartha Yadav, orthopaedic surgeon at Vashi’s Fortis hospital. Sharma had neither consumed steroids nor alcohol. “He was complaining of extreme pain in his hipbones for nearly six months and an MRI scan revealed that he was suffering from stage two of avascular necrosis. Instead of going for hip replacement, we opted for stem cell therapy,” added Dr Yadav.

First, the patient’s damaged hipbones were removed in an operation. “His hipbones were damaged, but the structure of the hip ball was intact, due to which he did not require a total hip replacement,” he said. Bone forming osteoblasts cells were extracted from Sharma’s bone marrow for the stem cells, which were then cultured in a lab for around five weeks. These cells were then implanted in the patient’s hip balls after drilling out the damaged hipbones.

Sharma, who was discharged from the hospital four days after the surgery and the stem cells injection, is recuperating in his house. The Vashi resident, who works in the trading business, is now able to walk short distances with crutches and will be able to lead a normal life once his bones are completely developed.

The Procedure
“When the osteoblasts cells are ready, we inject the cells in the cavity formed after drilling out the bones. The success rate of stem cells is 95 per cent in such cases, and the new bone is formed in three months,” said Dr Yadav. In most cases, the bone forming osteoblast cells injected in the cavity start calcifying or solidifying in two months. The patient then takes another four weeks to be able to walk without the help of support. “The cells are sent to regrow lab where they separate the osteoblast cells from the bone marrow. If the dead bones had not been removed, they would have collapsed or caused arthritis leading to further complications,” the doctor added.

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