Dr. Diana Drumm of Lakeside Animal Hospital performed the surgery on Mercie, a 4-year-old chocolate Labrador from Sparks with severe osteoarthritis of the right knee which resulted from a knee injury.
According to MediVet-America’s website, the company that developed the in-house stem cell technology, adult animal stem cell therapy uses the body’s own regenerative healing power to help cure dogs, cats and horses suffering from osteoarthritis, hip dysplasia and tendon and cartilage injuries.
Fat tissue was removed from Mercie’s abdomen Friday morning and then stem cells were separated from the fatty tissue in the hospital laboratory. Early in the afternoon, the cells were injected into Mercie’s knee.
“Within three to four weeks, Mercie should be moving well, with little or no pain,” a press release states.
Drumm explained stem cells “dedifferentiate,” or can become any cell. In Mercie’s case, the stem cells injected the in knee will help regenerate healthy tissue in the areas where the dog needs it.
“Stem cells are multipotent and can differentiate into tendon, ligament, bone, cartilage, cardiac, nerve, muscle, blood vessels, fat, and liver tissue22, 23,” the clinic’s website states. “The stromal fraction that is harvested from adipose (fat) tissue is a heterogeneous mixture of regenerative cells.”
Any extra stem cells left over after the initial injection procedure are given back to the animal intravenously, Drumm said. Those cells will distribute themselves to other parts of the body in need of regeneration.
“I portion the stem cells into different syringes if I need to inject more than one site,” Drumm said. “Then we give the rest through an IV.”
She said studies done with radiolabeled stem cells have shown the cells will move to various parts of the body as necessary.
Drumm said she is excited to be able to perform the entire procedure in house because it is less costly this way.
“We have been doing this since 2009 using an older extraction method,” she said, where the fatty tissue had to be sent out to a lab for stem cell extraction.
The downside was that it was expensive, cells were lost because they died during transport and the animal had to visit the vet clinic two different days for two separate procedures, Drumm said. Now everything can be done in one location, in one day.
Besides being inconvenient for the owner and the animal, the procedure previously cost about twice what it does now that the stem cells can be extracted at the clinic.
“Now it costs $1,800, where it used to cost $3,500,” Drumm said. “And we get tons more cells that we can put back in.”
Mercie’s owners, Shane and Kim Hunter, who own Bag of Bones in Sparks, are looking forward to Mercie’s recovery.
“She has really been limping around this week,” Kim said prior to the surgery.
Kim seems to have a lot of faith in Drumm and said as an owner of a pet store, she refers a lot of people to Lakeside.
“Dr. Drumm has been amazing,” Kim said. “We’re really happy to be able to work with her.”
Drumm and colleague, Dr. Elisa Bandelin, offer a variety of integrative therapies and both are certified to perform the stem cell procedure.
“Our facility offers integrative therapies ranging from full conventional diagnostics, surgery, and medicine to alternative and holistic therapies including veterinary acupuncture, veterinary orthopedic manipulation, traditional Chinese veterinary herbal medicine and food therapy,” the clinic’s website states.
According to a press release, veterinarians across the country have begun using MediVet-America stem cell technology and are seeing incredible results.
“Animals that had been lame, unable to climb stairs or jump up are walking, running and playing,” the release states.