Rotator Cuff Repair with Stem Cells!


CHICAGO, Ill. (Ivanhoe Newswire)— Stem cells have been around for a while with claims of helping patients to heal better faster. But is it really true? Details on a new study that looks into stem cells and rotator cuff surgery.

David Manion is an active fisherman, golfer, and a sculptor. But three years ago, he was sidelined by pain in his right shoulder.

“Pretty much shut me down. I like to take care of myself and I like to take care of the people around me and I definitely was not able to do that,” recalled Manion.

David knew he would have to get rotator cuff surgery, but there are some risks.

“Even though we repair the tendon, we stitch it back into place, about 20 percent of the time it may not heal,” explained Nikhil Verma, MD, director of sports medicine at Midwest Orthopedics at Rush.

(Read Full Interview)

Which means patients can still have some functional issues, pain after surgery, or even require a second surgery. That is why Doctor Verma wants to see if he can harness the body’s own healing power to heal better and faster. In a trial of rotator cuff surgery patients, he collected and injected stem cells into half of the patients during surgery, then looked at MRI scans a year later.

“In the group that got the stem cells, we could see a marked improvement in the appearance of the tendon compared to the group that did not get the stem cells,” elaborated Dr. Verma.

David participated in the trial and was part of the group that got the stem cells. His recovery went so well he decided to do the stem cells again when his left shoulder gave out.

Manion recalled, “It worked out really well for me last time. Can I do it again?”

Three days after surgery, he no longer needed pain meds. And three weeks out he’s eager to pick up where he left off.

“It’s hard to stop me actually. I’m told by my daughter and wife all the time stop picking stuff up,” shared Manion.

Dr. Verma says patients in the study used their own stem cells. He says their own is best, but if they have cancer or if they have a blood disease where they don’t make cells normally, a donor’s stem cells will be considered in the future. The stem cell treatment is still experimental, so insurance does not cover the cost.

Contributors to this news report include: Cyndy McGrath, Executive Producer; Milvionne Chery, Field Producer; Kirk Manson, Videographer; Roque Correa,  Editor.

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ROTATOR CUFF: The rotator cuff is a group of muscles and tendons that surround the shoulder joint. The rotator cuff keeps the head of your upper arm bone firmly within the shallow socket of the shoulder. A rotator cuff injury can cause a dull ache in the shoulder, which worsens when the arm is away from the body. Rotator cuff injuries are common, increase with age and may occur early in life in people who have jobs that require repeated overhead motions like painters and carpenters. The pain associated with a rotator cuff injury is described as a deep ache in the shoulder which may disturb your sleep, make it difficult to do some daily activities and create weakness in the arm.


TRADITIONAL ROTATOR CUFF REPAIR SURGERY: The type of rotator cuff repair depends on the size of your tear, anatomy, and quality of the tendon tissue and bone. The three techniques commonly used for rotator cuff repair include open repair, arthroscopic repair, and mini-open repair. In open repair the surgeon makes an incision over the shoulder and detaches the deltoid muscle to see and gain access to the torn tendon and then removes bone spurs from the underside of the acromion. With arthroscopic repair the surgeon inserts a small camera into your shoulder joint. The camera displays pictures on a television screen, and your surgeon uses the images to guide the mini surgical instruments.  Mini-open repair uses newer technology and instruments to repair through a 3 to 5 cm long incision. Arthroscopy is used to assess and treat damage to other structures within the joint and it avoids the need to detach the deltoid muscle. The surgeon repairs the rotator cuff through the mini-open incision. During the procedure, the surgeon views the shoulder structures directly, rather than through the video monitor.


NEW STEM CELL ROTATOR CUFF REPAIR: The use of stem cells is shown to improve healing outcomes following rotator cuff repairs. Studies show it decreases the re-tear and healing rates when stem cells are introduced into a damaged joint, and spontaneously changes the joint environment from diseased to healing by signaling the healing cells to get ready to rebuild. They also send signals to suppress inflammation and provide an anti-inflammatory effect. The stem cells express various growth factors and direct cell to cell contact between the remaining cartilage cells in the joint and have been observed to influence stem cells regenerating cartilage. Therefore, researchers from around the world are now pointing towards stem cell therapy as the future of rotator cuff repair and even to repair failed surgery damage. Dr. Nikhil Verma, professor and director of the Division of Sports Medicine at Rush University Medical Center offers stem cell rotator cuff repair so patients can use their own adult stem cells found throughout their body either at time of the repair or as a possible alternative to undergoing surgery and lengthy rehabilitation program. The procedure requires Dr. Verma to harvest a sample of the patient’s bone marrow, usually from the hip region. The bone marrow sample is then spun in a centrifuge to separate the adult stem cells, platelets, and white blood cells from the red blood cells. The combined three healing agents are then injected into the damaged rotator cuff to promote tissue healing and regeneration. Also, donor stem cells harvested from discarded placental tissue may be used as an in-office procedure.




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Doctor Q and A

Read the entire Doctor Q&A for Nikhil Verma, MD, Sports Medicine Surgeon, Director of the Division of Sports Medicine

Read the entire Q&A