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Experimental use of stem cells in spinal fusion

meydey321mmeydey321 Posts: 2,435
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:30 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
I was watching The Doctors today and they had a 44 year old woman who had been suffering with extreme back pain and she took part in an experimental procedure where they inject stem cells into the cadaver bone used in fusing the vertebra together. This is supposed to make it heal just like a fractured bone would.

I'm still trying to understand the mechanics of this- would the stem cells regenerate the dessicated disc? Would it cause the nerve heal faster? Would it reverse permanent nerve damage? This lady was sitting down comfortably 1 month later and she said her leg pain is gone and feels better.

I'm a bit confused however- I was reading the episode summary and it said she ruptured 3 discs in her neck in an accident. In the footage, the surgeon asked her prior to surgery where was her pain, and she pointed to her lower back and said the pain was right sided and radiates down her leg. She also had numbness and tingling. I don't get it, she herniated discs in her neck but there was no mention of lower back problems in the summary.

Does anyone think this is viable? Would you line up to have this done? Log onto www.thedoctorstv.com and see for yourself. It's pretty interesting.


  • Stem cells are blank cells, the building blocks of our body so to speak.

    This area is very very very advanced, but from what I have heard and even seen is stem cells can heal damanged nerves by actually repairing them.

    I took care of a patient who had stem cell treatments in his back done in China, he was partially paralyzed from the waist down and he had feeling back in his legs after the stem cell treatments, and could even move them to some extent.

    It is very likely new discs, bone, nerves, can be grown from stem cells.

  • Yes, I saw the same show and found it very interesting...have not been able to find much information on this procedure on the internet.Is it availiable now,is it a clinical trial?.....let me know if you find any information.
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  • I am 44 year old female. I have been having back pain since I was teenager.

    My 1st Back Surgery L4-5 in 1999.
    Going/planning for 2 level L4-5-S1 PLIF or TLIF in this Summer (2009).

    I am not sure if I should have a "Stem Cells" or "Xlif" because it's newer/advanced back surgery. I would love to be trial patient.
    If you know any info please kindly let me know.


  • Are they even doing stem cell trials on patients yet in the United States?

    Last I knew you had to go to Europe or Asia (China in particular) for stem cell treatments.
  • I can't quite figure out where to find the program on that site.
    I wonder if it's the regenexx thing?
    Also, I found a lab/clinic/biomed research place in Northern California that is injecting stem cells into degenerated lumbar discs.
    I'll have to search the web for it again.
    On the sunny and mild Central Coast of California

    L4-L5 endoscopic transforaminal microdiscectomy June, 2007
    L5-S1 endoscopic transforaminal microdiscectomy May, 2008
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  • stated, stem cells are those which are created at conception; they turn into whatever they need to be. In "people" (those past the gestational stage) they have the possibility of becoming whatever cells are needed depending on what cells they are placed with. However, this is all very new and very premature technology. There really isn't any telling what the possibilities are without a whole lot of research, which is moving forward as we speak. The debate in the U.S. in recent years hasn't been about the legality of the research itself, only on whether or not Federal tax dollars should fund that research.
  • jlrfryejjlrfrye ohioPosts: 1,111
    Hello to all. I am 46 years old and am getting ready to have my fourth cervical surgery. Previously i have had c4-5-6 and 7 fused to which all fusions have failed.My surgeon has decided to remove the c5-6 discs(corpectomy)with application of cage and plate then fuse c4-5,c5-6 and c6-7 along with using stem cells.So yes is the answer to the question concerning this procedure being done in the united states. My surgery is scheduled for 6/25/09 and for me it couldnt get here fast enough. If anyone is interested in more detail please pm and i will reply
  • I just had a revision surgery of a spinal fusion in which hardware broke at the S1 level. They this time inserted iliac bolts to top of hip bone connected with rod and another bolt at the S1 level. They backed it with stem cells, human donor cells, FDA approved in January 2011 for spinal fusion - I feel a LOT better already, my body seems to be responding and healing. The plan however, is for the stem cells to regenerate and grow bone cells to create / complete the fusion to the levels above. They were not intending this for the regrowth of the nerves. I had severe nerve pain prior to my first post op and some post op this time, however, less this time. Nerve cells do regenerate slowly but when you stop things from impinging on the nerves or nerve roots, there is relief and regrowth happens slowly. I also take lecithin to help facilitate nerve conductivity and stimulate regrowth but I just started doing this on my own as this is the same material that coats the myelin sheath of nerves. They used BMP to pack my first fusion- it did work on 2 levels, just the bottom level the screws broke so bones kept moving which made fusion impossible. I hope to be a success case!
  • One of the products is called Trinity Evolution. Its being used at the University of Michigan. It apparently is a "mixture" of something like 80 different donors. Its not "stem cells" the way you think of umbilical cord blood or placenta, its "fresh" cadaver bone marrow that they say still has "x" number of mesenchymal cells which supposedly have the ability to further differentiate into different types of cells hence allowing the company to use the phrase "stem cell". I had it used for a revisional procedure in my lumbar spine recently.

    I feel somewhat disappointed in myself that I didn't research the product a little more before my surgery, but I think there are times we are so desperate to get out of a bad predicament you want to believe the best. I had this surgeon do this procedure on me after a friend told me about her success, however she did not have the Trinity Evolution, she had solid cadaveric bone. I don't know about you guys but I usually have a 2 minute appointment with the attending and then the PA has to answer most the questions...I just had another surgeon make some very negative comments about the product and its use in my case, which is...bothersome to say the least.

    Anyway, its currently under the ownership of Orthofix, the same company that does alot of bone stimulators. There was a similar product before it (not by Orthofix, didn't have the same name - I believe it was called Osteocell or Osteocell Plus, but was a "similar" product), and they found that the product was contaminated with hepatitis & recalled! How do you recall what's already been put in to patients is beyond me. For those who ask how I fused with it, well it took a very long, long time for me to make bone with BMP, and I was a little "late" in making bone this time, but supposedly was "solid" sooner. And no, I don't smoke, always followed doctors instructions regarding not taking NSAIDS etc., and instructions on PT etc.

    Ok, I just googled this I think its still experimental. I don't believe I signed any consent forms to that effect..
  • Trinity Evolution was used for my fusion in Nov 09 and my surgeon had been using it for a while. It does work very well and does not have the nasty side effects of BMP. My fusion has gone very well. I was showing nice fusion at 3 months and at a year 360 fusion. Now 18+ months later still fine and no spurious growth issues like with BMP.

    It is stem cell, but as optimist points out, not like some think.
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