What is bone marrow?
Bone marrow are the soft spongy tissue that is found in the center canal of your large bones. In adults, bone marrow is the production center of your blood components: red blood cells, white blood cells, and plasma. Also found in bone marrow is the immature forms of your blood component cells, called stem cells.
What are bone marrow stem cells?
The immature stem cells found inside the bone marrow have the potential to develop into various mature cells such as muscle cells, the cells of a vessel, cells of cartilage or even bone cells. Two of the main stem cells found in marrow include hematopoietic stem cells and mesenchymal stem cells.
Hematopoietic stem cells give rise to the three classes of blood cells that are found in the circulation: white blood cells, red blood cells, and platelets. These cells drive tissue regeneration and create supportive circulation.
Mesenchymal stem cells are also known as Marrow Stromal Cells. These cells have the ability to form osteoblasts (bone structure), chondrocytes (cartilage), and myocytes (muscles).
Is the process experimental or new?
Bone marrow extractions have been conducted for several years and are commonly used in oncology and hematology fields. Stem cells were initially used for transplant purposes in patients with immune deficiencies, such as cancers or disorders caused by your own blood. Using your own bone marrow to extract stem cells prevents any rejection or allergic reactions; both the donor and recipient of this treatment is you!
Are there any risks?
Bone marrow extractions are safe procedures when conducted by a trained professional in a sterile environment. Complications are rare but can include:
- Bleeding, particularly in patients with a low platelet count or clotting disorder
- Infection, in patients with weakened immune systems. Antibiotics can be given post extraction to prevent infection.
How long is the healing process?
Bone marrow stem cell are the regenerative cells responsible for repair and rebuilding damaged tissue. The concentrated cells accelerate the healing process, promotes strength, offer pain relief an improve overall function. The healing cascade can be active and take place over a 4-6 week period. A follow-up PRP procedure may be recommended if the desired relief is not met.
How log is the procedure?
Treatment can occur in an outpatient setting or in conjunction with surgery. The actual extraction can take up to ten minutes, but the concentrating process can take up to one hour, during which the patient will be waiting or having their surgical procedure performed.
What should I expect?
The area of extraction is locally numbed so no pain is felt. Bone marrow is extracted from the back of a patient’s pelvis or hip bone from an area called the posterior iliac crest.
A suctioned syringe attached to a long needle is used to reach the posterior aspect of the bone, during which minimal discomfort is felt due to local anesthetic. The collected bone marrow is then filtered and spun in a centrifuge. Spinning the sample at a high speed separates the platelets and stem cells from the bone marrow.
The combination of stem cells and healing components, collectively known as the bone marrow aspirate concentrate (BMAC), are reintroduced to the injured area via injection.
What should I do or not do?
There are few recommendations such as drinking plenty of fluids and eating a good meal. Please consult with your physician about medications or prior history of blood disorders. Pain control, if needed, will be given.
How long is recovery time?
The majority of patients are able to return to their daily activities within 1-2 days but some pain may be felt for up to one week.