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Stem Cell Therapy

Our team at Murrells Inlet Veterinary Hospital is thrilled to be able to offer this cutting-edge technology to our patients.  It is truly a breakthrough in the treatment of arthritis, immune mediated joint disease, and tendon and ligament injuries.  The results after treatment are most astounding for owners and their pets.  Vet-Stem has helped veterinarians around the country treat thousands of dogs and cats.


Voluntary responses from pet owners and veterinarians report 83-90% of patients had improved quality of life with treatment, and 85% of owners would recommend stem cell therapy to others!  Stem Cell Therapy has been used since 2004 in equine patients.  There have been hundreds of studies and case reports investigating adult stem cells as therapy for joint and musculoskeletal disease, as well as other diseases.


What are stem cells?

Stem cells are the cells present in your body that are responsible for replacing other cells throughout the body that have died or have been injured. They are present in almost every tissue that you have in your body.  Anytime an injury occurs your body sends signals to these cells to help repair the damage that has been done.  Osteoarthritis is basically damaged cartilage and bone within a joint.  Under normal circumstances, an injury or damage occurs and your body responds with inflammation and then repair. Eventually those processes result in scarring as a quick fix but, just as with our skin when it scars, a scarred tissue is never as good as the real thing.  By injecting stem cells into the affected area, the reparative process in healing is prolonged, which results in less scarring and the development of more healthy tissue.


How do you get the stem cells from my pet?

Initially scientists and doctors thought that in order to get adequate numbers of stem cells we would have harvest these cells from bone marrow. This process is painful and difficult. Through research, scientists have discovered that fat contains these same stem cells in even more abundant numbers and can be harvested via a less invasive process.  Even though these cells come from fat they have the ability to turn into many different tissue cells including cartilage, bone, muscle, tendon, and ligament.  We use stem cells that have been extracted from fat tissues.  In order to extract stem cells from your pet, we have to surgically remove a small amount of fat.  A moderate size surgical incision is made at the dermis typically behind the tricep/shoulder area to facilitate the removal of a portion of subcutaneous tissue.  This incision will be closed with sutures and/or staples and will heal within 7-10 days.


How do you extract stem cells from the fat tissue?

After we remove the fat tissue from your pet, the tissue is handled in a sterile manner, prepared for shipment and is immediately sent overnight to the Vet-Stem Laboratory, where they separate and analyze the stem cells; then prepare the stem cells for treatment in your pet.  Vet-Stem's laboratory is a controlled sterile environment with highly trained personnel that are experts at isolating stem cells, preparing the cells for treatment and storing extra cells for future use.  Commercially, Vet-Stem was the first to offer this technology for veterinary applications and they are still the leaders in research in this area of veterinary medicine. They continue to look at more uses for this treatment with exciting prospects of treating and even curing other diseases in the future.  There are other companies that offer varying methods of stem cell extraction and preparation, but through our research and experience, we feel that the Vet-Stem process is the best and most reputable.


How are the prepared stem cells put into my pet?

Vet-Stem ships the stem cells to us in sterile, specially prepared, individually-packaged syringes.  They ship them overnight and we receive them the next morning.  The cells arrive ready to be injected into your pet.  Injecting into a pet's joint or specific point of injury is a delicate procedure, so your pet will be sedated for their safety and comfort.  The stem cells are then injected into the affected joints or soft tissues.  Your pet's sedative is reversed and they are ready to go home after a short monitoring period!  The whole process involves 3 days.  The first day is the surgical procedure to remove the fat tissue, the second is the laboratory work to obtain and prepare the stem cells and the third is the day that the stem cells are injected into the affected joints or site of injury.


How long after the injections are given does it take for my pet to start feeling better and how long do results last?

It varies from pet to pet.  We have witnessed marked improvement after just a few days, but typically noticeable results are seen within 1-4 weeks.  Regarding longevity -pet owners have reported results that have last 3-4 or more years!  Retreatment is also an option if cells are stored for future use or if the harvesting procedure is repeated.

Please contact us or visit the VetStem website at for further information.