How Stem Cell Can Help Treat Avascular Necrosis

This post describes how the effects of AVN can be reduced or even cured through stem cell treatment.

What is Avascular Necrosis?

Avascular necrosis (AVN) is a condition wherein, blood flow to the bone is hampered or stopped due to traumatic injury or a disease. As bone is a living tissue, loss of blood flow to any bone tissue will cause it to die. Over a period of time, it can result in a collapse of bone.

Causes of AVN

Here are the main reasons why someone would be affected by avascular necrosis.

Femur Dislocation

Dislocation or fracture of the hip bone (femur) is the first reason. The injury or dislocation can damage the blood supply to femur head causing AVN. This is the most common area affected by AVN.

Alcohol

The next reason is excessive use of alcohol. Drinking too much alcohol may cause fatty substances to build in the blood vessels and decrease the blood supply to the bones. When the blood supply is reduced, it damages the bone tissue and causes severe pain over a period of time.

Blood Clots, Inflammation, and Artery Damage

Blood clots, inflammation, and damage to the arteries can all block blood from flowing to the bones.

Other Conditions

The other conditions that are associated with nontraumatic AVN include:

  • Sickle cell disease
  • HIV infection
  • Radiation therapy or chemotherapy
  • Gaucher’s disease
  • Pancreatitis – inflammation of the pancreas
  • Autoimmune diseases

Treating Joints Affected by Avascular Necrosis 

Avascular necrosis is a progressive condition characterized by a vascular insult to the bone, which can lead to the collapse of the bone and subsequent degenerative changes. The femoral head, carpals, and humerus are the most commonly affected bones. Once the collapse of the affected bone occurs, pain ensues and results in a limitation of daily activities. Spontaneous regression of the condition is rare.

The risk of developing AVN of the femoral head is 0.3% with an incidence of one per one thousand patients per year. The commonly reported causes of AVN are the use of steroid medication and traumatic injury.

The use of progenitor cells has shown promise in halting the progression of AVN of the femoral head and subsequently preventing patients from undergoing total hip arthroplasty. These cells have the ability to survive and expand in the avascular environment/necrotic area. The use of platelet concentrate aids in the supply of growth factors to the necrotic region thereby acting synergistically with the progenitor cells.

The established protocol involves harvesting cells from the patients’ own body (autologous stem cells). After activation, the cells are transplanted into the appropriate site. The degree of improvement achieved will depend on the stage of the condition, the presence of other influencing factors and patient compliance with respect to following the diet and allied therapies (physiotherapy, yoga).

Treatment Possible for Avascular Necrosis

The above-mentioned protocol has been well accepted now at a various forum as it has provided the result. Successful cases have been published in the British Health Journal as well.

If you or someone you love is suffering from spinal cord injury, we wrote about how stem cell offers hope for patients grounded by spinal cord injury.

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