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By Animal General of East Norwich
Published: September 04, 2011

Due to new advances in regenerative medicine, on September 29, 2010, Dr. Ellen Leonhardt performed stem cell therapy on Luger, a 4-year-old Rottweiler suffering from severe congenital hip dysplasia. Luger's owner, Roseanne Mamo, was thrilled by the dramatic improvement in her dog. In the past, he would cry in pain when he tried to stand up.

Thanks to this newly-available medical technology, stem cell therapy now offers new hope for pets such as Luger with conditions such as hip dysplasia or arthritis by promoting the growth of new cartilage in joints where it had been worn off. Previously, traditional medical treatment options included the use of anti-inflammatory drugs and nutritional supplements.

Stem cell therapy is typically performed in two out-patient procedures, involving three steps: (1) fat is surgically collected from a patient under general anesthesia. An incision is made through the skin and fat is placed in a sterile collection container. The incision is sutured closed; (2) the fat sample is then sent to the processing lab where stem cells (mesenchymal) are then extracted from the collected fat and then sent back to the veterinarian; and (3) the patient's own stem cells are then injected by the veterinarian into the patient's affected joints and also into the bloodstream via a dose delivered intravenously. These stem cells then become encoded by chemical mediators in the joint and become cartilage, tendon or bone. The stem cells given intravenously migrate through the blood stream to wherever the body needs them.

Dr. Leonhardt reports that her patients who have undergone the procedure have all done exceedingly well, with most showing improvement within two weeks and continuing to make some improvement for up to two months afterward. It does take some time for the cells to grow into a significant amount of cartilage. Arthritic joints are painful because the cartilage on the surface of the joint has been worn off. When new cartilage grows, pain is relieved. If a joint has instability (such as cruciate ligament injury) or is genetically abnormal (such as hip dysplasia), new cartilage will grow but may get worn off again. When the new cartilage becomes worn and pain returns, stem cell therapy can simply be repeated.

Dogs and cats of all ages can suffer from arthritis and other conditions where stem cell therapy can be beneficial. There has also been great interest in using stem cell therapy at the time of an orthopedic injury in the hopes that these pets will develop less arthritis as they age. The future is bright for stem cell therapy, which is great for our pets. This type of treatment is a way of helping the body to heal itself. The stem cell procedure, which costs $2,000-$2,500, is sometimes covered by pet insurance.

For further information about stem cell therapy or veterinarians trained in this type of medicine, please visit and MediVet and Vet-Stem are leading the way in stem cell regenerative therapy in pets.