What is the Regenexx Stem Cell procedure and how does it work?
Adult stem cells are cells from your own body that can renew themselves and turn into other cells (differentiate). They live inside all of us in various tissues, poised to leap into action to repair damage as it occurs. As we age or have big injuries, we may not be able to recruit enough of these cells to the site to fully repair the area. Regenexx Stem Cell Procedures help overcome this problem by extracting stem cells from an area of high volume, then concentrating the cells and reinjecting them into the damaged area to help the body heal naturally.
Here’s how it works: We use your own cells to regenerate lost tissue. The procedure consists of a bone marrow draw, where a small amount of whole marrow is extracted from the back of your hips. Your cells are isolated from that marrow sample then reinjected that same day into the joint/site being treated. In some cases, there could be anywhere between 1-3 injections into the joint/site depending on the procedure the doctor prescribes.
Please see two short videos that show how Regenexx procedures are different from the procedures performed by any other stem cell provider.
What is the Regenexx Super Concentrated Platelet Rich Plasma procedure and how does it work?
Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) and Platelet Lysate Injection Treatments contain healing growth components from your own blood that increase your body’s natural ability to repair itself. The use of PRP to repair joint, tendon, ligament, and muscle injuries is becoming well known, thanks to exposure from professional athletes. Platelet injection treatments are effective because they have a stimulating effect on the stem cells within the targeted area, making those stem cells work harder to heal damaged tissues.Platelet procedures are commonly used for soft tissue injuries, mild arthritis and spine conditions. Please see two short videos that show how Regenexx procedures are different from the procedures performed by any other stem cell or PRP provider.
How do you determine who is a good candidate?
The doctor will base this on a number of factors such as condition of the injured site(s), past medical history, medications, activity level and other variables. The doctor will review all of this with you during your evaluation and give you his recommendations. From there, it’s completely up to you to decide how you want to move forward.
Is there an age restriction?
Age will be considered as part of your medical history, but it won’t disqualify you from being a potential patient. At our Pittsburgh practice we continue to monitor whether older patients undergoing procedures using their own live stem cells result in less successful outcomes. The registry data is telling us that when we use your body’s own live stem cells, with precise injections (via guidance with ultrasound and fluoroscopy), that age does not seem to affect stem cell treatment success. Regenexx Pittsburgh has successfully treated many patients as young as age 14 through 98 years old.
How many times do I need to have the procedure done?
The Regenexx procedure is meant to be a one-time procedure. Some patients have returned to get a second procedure or a “booster” to continue their improvement in the treated space.
What’s the success rate of the procedure?
We have had great success with our procedures over the past ten years and as a result, we have a lot of data and infographics we share on our website. Tap here to see our outcomes data.
Regenexx has the largest Registry of Stem Cell patients in the country and we track their outcomes over years. Keep in mind that each patient will respond differently to the procedure, so a doctor’s evaluation would be the next step in determining how effective a Regenexx procedure would be in your specific case.
Are there any result outcomes, clinical trials/studies?
We have the largest database of stem cell data in the country. We gather post-procedure reports to establish a baseline and follow up with our patients every few months to track their progress. Regenexx openly publishes patient outcomes data. For all of our procedures you can see:
After treatment, how much better are the patient’s conditions? How much function do patients have in the joint? How much pain do patients report. See Regenexx Outcomes Data.
How long have you been doing the procedures?
Dr. Centeno, founder of Regenexx, conducted our clinical trials from 2005- 2007, which were the first stem cell procedures performed. Regenexx has been doing procedures exclusively in the U.S. since (August) 2010.
How are the physicians selected to join the Network?
All of the Regenexx physicians are musculoskeletal specialists with advanced training; and many are affiliated with medical schools and run various fellowship programs. Physicians are selected into the Regenexx Network due to their ability to perform a comprehensive musculoskeletal examination with advanced image guidance (such as ultrasound and fluoroscopy) as well as their superior injection skills.
All selected physicians practice the Regenexx procedures only after they are certified by our training physicians.
Are there referrals/testimonials
Remembering that patient outcomes may vary, you can view patient testimonials here; https://regenexxpittsburgh.com/patient-testimonials/
We also have the unique ability to connect patients in our registry with people who are looking for surgery alternatives, like you. We have some patients who are willing to connect with potential candidates. We may be able to coordinate a connection once you’ve completed an evaluation.
How much do the procedures cost?
The stem cell procedure typically will range between $5,000 and $10,000; depending on the doctor’s recommendations for treatment. Blood-derived procedures start around $1,250 and can go up from there.
Why the broad range?
We give a broad range of $5,000 to $10,000 to allow the doctor to assess your particular condition and determine the treatment that would give you the best outcome. If you would like to schedule an evaluation with a doctor, the doctor could evaluate you and give you a more accurate idea of treatment, expected outcome and cost.
Are the procedures covered by insurance?
Generally, Regenexx procedures are not covered by insurance at this time. Some health insurance plans may cover the initial evaluation, and any follow-up physical therapy, so I would recommend contacting your health insurance provider if you’re interested in learning more about your coverage.
Some employers (usually the larger companies) are self-insured. In many cases these self insured companies will cover the procedures. Again, you will have to contact the administrator of your plan.
What if my insurance says it covers stem cell procedures?
It is likely that your insurance coverage may be referring to systemic condition procedures, and not orthopedic conditions.
How do you take payment?
Payment can be made by credit card over the phone, or online. HAS/FSA accounts may be accepted, but we recommend checking with your Plan Administrator first.
Are there payment plans?
We do not have payment arrangements for the stem cell procedures, as the majority of the fees are lab related costs. However, you may be able to use CareCredit, which is a revolving line of credit specific for medical conditions. If you’re interested in learning more, you can access information on their website: www.carecredit.com.
Are there other locations providing Regenexx procedures?
Yes. There are many licensed providers in the network certified to perform Regenexx procedures. We are the only Regenexx provider in Western PA.
How long does the procedure take?
The stem cell procedure (Marrow aspirates and reinjection) happens in the same day, however, the total protocol can take anywhere from 2-8 days depending on what protocol the physician recommends. Protocols are based on each individual patient.
What are the requirements for review/evaluation?
Candidate patients are required to complete an evaluation with one of our doctors. The doctor will need an MRI Report and some basic medical history. Once we have this information, we will call you to schedule an evaluation at a time that works best for you. At the evaluation, the doctor will rate you as a possible Regenexx candidate and discuss treatment options and costs.
X-Ray vs. MRI
Because an x-ray will only show the condition of the bone, not the soft tissue, the doctor needs an MRI to accurately evaluate the condition of the whole area. If you are unable to have an MRI, a CT arthrogram is acceptable.
Can I use an older MRI?
The doctor will need the most recent MRI available. The MRI should be without contrast and less than two years old. If you’ve had surgery or a scope done since having the MRI, we would need an MRI that was taken after the operation / procedure.
Will I be under sedation?
We generally use a local anesthetic for the marrow draws as well as the reinjections.
What is your scheduling lead time?
We can typically schedule a phone review within a few days after we have a complete chart. We can schedule an in-office evaluation depending on scheduling availability. After the evaluation, we will do our best to get you in as soon as we can. Please call 412-963-6480 to learn about our current procedure lead times.
How long will the procedure take?
There is virtually no down time with this outpatient procedure. The entire process will take anywhere from 2-8 days depending on the doctor’s recommendation. Typically, you can walk right out of the clinic the same day any procedure is completed. For all blood-derived procedures (Stem Cell and PRP), you will typically only need to come in for one day for treatment.
Do I need to have someone drive me?
All of our patients walk out of the clinic. It’s not mandatory, but if you feel more comfortable having someone help you, that is certainly a great option. We encourage you to do what feel best for you and ask your doctor if you have questions.
Does the bone marrow draw hurt?
The bone marrow draw is a basic aspiration, not a biopsy, which is known to be painful. 88% of patients have noted that the draw was much less painful than they anticipated and wouldn’t hesitate to do it again. A local anesthetic is used to perform the marrow aspirate, which also helps minimize any discomfort.
How do you inject the cells back into the joint?
Regenexx Pittsburgh is dedicated to optimizing outcomes through accurate diagnosis and targeted treatment through the use of state of the art image guidance. We do all of our injections right into the joint or site of damage (in the joint vs. in the vein) under live ultrasound. Your MRI will serve as a an initial guide for the doctor.
How do the cells know what to turn into?
The cells pick up on environmental cues after the injection that directs them to what they need to differentiate into.
Can you have the procedure on a joint that has already been replaced?
No. There is no actual joint to repair.
Can you treat more than one area at a time?
Treating more than one area is possible but will be determined on a case-by-case basis. One of the many things that set Regenexx procedures apart from all other stem cell therapy being offered is dosage; to ensure the best possible outcome the doctor takes many factors into consideration, including your stem cell count.
Can you treat tendon/ligament tears?
Yes, we do treat partial tears and full tears that are not retracted. We generally are not able to treat full retracted tears.
Is this procedure approved by the FDA?
The FDA does not “approve” or “not approve” medical procedures (like gall bladder surgery for example). This is considered a medical procedure. We are in compliance with all procedure codes; the FDA does not have any issues with the procedures we offer in the U.S.
Is this against the law?
Absolutely not. Regenexx stem cell and PRP procedures are FDA compliant. We are using only your own adult stem cells, which is legal. We do not use embryonic, amniotic, or adipose stem cells, which have received warnings restrictions from the FDA.
Are there any risks involved?
For any needle-based procedure, you run the risk of infection any time the skin is broken; however, there is no risk of rejection since we are using your own cells.
Is there a risk of cancer/tumor?
Our research and patient information so far have not seen a risk of mutations in the cells. Regenexx procedures have been performed over the past 11 years and to date more than 111,000 procedures have been completed.
What are some common conditions that are NOT treated?
Common conditions that are not candidates for Regenexx treatment include: spinal cord injury, diabetes, brain injury, stroke, cancer or any neuromuscular or brain disorders.