You are here

Stem Cell Finding May End Hip Replacements for Osteonecrosis Sufferers

Osteonecrosis occurs when the patient's bone tissue dies after a loss of blood supply to the area. If the bone involved is near a joint, it can cause the joint surface to collapse. In most cases, the disease first attacks people in their late 30s and 40s. Although not life threatening, if left untreated it will eventually destroy the joint.

This latest procedure involves extracting stem cells from the bone marrow of osteonecrosis patients in need of hip repair and mixing the cells with cleaned, crushed bone from other patients who have already undergone hip replacements. The cell mixture is then used to fill the hole left after surgeons remove the dead and damaged tissue from the joint.

The procedure was developed by the same doctors who in 2009 pioneered the use of autologous adult stem cells to repair damaged hips Dr. Douglas Dunlop, a consultant orthopedic surgeon at Southampton General Hospital, and Dr. Richard Oreffo, a specialist in musculoskeletal science at the University of Southampton.

"By using stem cells to send out chemical signals to blood vessels we hope the body will continue to create new vessels in the hip which supply enough nutrients to maintain bone strength," Dr. Oreffo said.

Dr. Dunlop added, "Although this work is still ongoing, several patients who have had the procedure have reacted very well and, if we get the results we are hoping for, these patients won't need to have their hip joints replaced - they should be fixed completely."

Learn more: