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Are Stem Cells the Future of Hip Replacement?

It looks like traditional hip replacement therapy may soon be a thing of the past. Latest advancements in hip replacement treatments are now focusing the spotlight on stem cells in rebuilding cartilage and restoring bone strength.

For most of our patients here at our  New York sports medicine practice,

this is certainly good news as the utilization of stem cells in hip replacement is less invasive than traditional treatment methods. In addition, it does not require the use of general anesthesia and can potentially eliminate or reduce risk of infection which is a common adverse effect in any surgical procedure.


The Stem Cell Basics


You probably know by now that the cell is the basic unit of life of each living microorganism, including us, humans. What sets stem cells apart from the rest of the cells in your body is that they are actually unspecialized cells that has the potential to become another type of cell with a specialized function such as a red blood cell, brain cell or a muscle cell given the right experimental or physiologic conditions.  By and large, you can consider them akin to  superheroes who can copy the powers of other superheroes. Cool huh?

There are predominantly 2 basic forms of stem cells – the embryonic stem cell and adult stem cell. Embryonic stem cells are derived from human embryos that are developed from eggs fertilized in in vitro fertilization clinics and are donated for research purposes. Embryonic stem cells are not derived from fertilized eggs in a woman’s body,

The second type of stem cell is the adult stem cell, also known as mesenchymal stem cell or MSC. It is found in tissues and organs such as the bone marrow, skeletal muscle, skin, teeth, heart, gut, liver, peripheral blood, blood vessels, ovarian epithelium, and the testis. This second type of stem cell is commonly used in hip replacement, particularly the ones that are found in the bone marrow.

How It Works

Generally, hip replacement via stem cells involves harvesting the stem cells from the bone marrow through a biopsy needle and then centrifuged for a more concentrated mixture. The resulting mixture of stem cells is then injected into the hip joint, usually followed by an injection of platelet rich plasma which is required to support the growth of cartilage and new hip joint tissues.

Practical Concerns

Practical issues that may arise from stem cell therapy in hip replacement include costs, storage, availability, and regulatory issues. Hence The Plancher Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine team believes that while the research in this area is showing positive results, we’re still several years away from offering it as an alternative to a hip replacement.

If you have queries concerning the latest in hip replacement therapy such as stem cell treatment, we encourage you to get in touch with us. We’d love to hear from you! Call us at 212-876-5200 or fill out this contact form!