OVERLAND PARK, Kan. -- Stem cell therapy has now become mainstream medicine, and not only for people. It’s also in use for pets, primarily for arthritis.
Dr. Matt Powers with Stanley Vet Clinic in Overland Park has performed stem cell therapy on pets for the last eight years.
The procedure takes a full day, during which the doctor puts the pet under anesthesia and extracts fat cells from the abdomen containing the animal’s own stem cells.
It takes about four hours for a technician to process the stem cells and place them in a suspension of platelet rich plasma for injection.
Then the pet is briefly sedated for just a few minutes while the doctor injects the stem cells into the problem area.
The stem cells take about six months to generate new cartilage in the arthritic joint, but the platelet rich plasma can reduce inflammation and provide some pain relief within a few weeks of surgery.
There are two options: a single treatment that costs about $2,000, or a single procedure that extracts enough stem cells for future injections for about $2,400.
The extra stem cells are cryogenically frozen and stored until needed for the next treatment.
Powers said the procedure generally works best on younger pets that have not yet developed late-stage arthritis.
That was the case for Wendy Reeves’ chocolate Labrador retriever, Guinness.
Reeves noticed Guinness limping at seven months of age. Guinness was diagnosed with elbow dysplasia, followed by elbow surgery, but she said the surgery didn't improve her dog’s condition.
Reeves' husband had done platelet rich plasma for his own golf elbow condition with good results, so they did some research and found Powers at Stanley Vet Clinic.
Powers performed the stem cell procedure on Guinness, and Reeves saw improvement in her dog’s pain and limping by the third week after surgery.
She chose to have extra stem cells extracted for Guinness, and he's has already had a second injection treatment.
Reeves said she believes stem cell therapy has been incredible in improving her dog’s pain, mobility and quality of life and she highly recommends it.