New stem cell op may prevent thousands from having hip replacements

Monday, August 31, 2009

LONDON - British surgeons at the Spire Hospital in Southampton are using a novel technique that uses stem cells to repair damaged bones.

Media reports on this procedure suggest that it may prevent thousands of people from needing to have an artificial hip fitted.

Mark Venables, 39, is one patient on whom doctors at the Spire Hospital conducted one of their first operations.

He suffers from a condition where bone in his hip died, weakening his joint and causing pain on movement.

The surgeons at the hospital used his own stem cells to rejuvenate the affected bone.

“I just want to get back to an active life,” Sky News quoted Venables as saying before the operation.

For the operation, the surgeons first purified stem cells from bone marrow that they had extracted from Venables’ pelvis.

The doctors then mixed them with cleaned, ground-up bone from another patient, who had had their own hip replaced.

After removing the dead tissue from the ball of his hip, the doctors filled the cavity with the mixture of stem cells and donated bone.

Surgeon Doug Dunlop said that the bone would have collapsed without the stem cell treatment, and that Venables would have then needed an artificial hip joint.

“If this new procedure works, he won’t need a hip replacement. It will fix his hip for life,” said Dunlop.

To date, six patients have been operated using the new procedure, and only one surgery has failed.

Professor Richard Oreffo, of Southampton University, is now hoping to improve the technique further by replacing the donated bone with an artificial material containing chemicals that help the stem cells grow.(ANI)

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