Jasmine, our female Rottweiler, was five and a half years old when, after persistent lameness, she was diagnosed with bilateral ACL injuries. It was found that she had a partial ACL tear in her left knee and a partial tear or a stretched ligament in her right knee.
The suggested solution, a TPLO to repair her lame leg, with a prognosis for a second surgery on the right knee in six months time, was quite a blow. This would add up to two invasive surgeries and a total of one year of recovery.
On a quest to find an alternative, we looked into all other options. (See Talk To Me About ACL Injuries). During our research, we came across information about stem cell regenerative therapy for dogs.
We found that stem cell regenerative therapy has been used to treat tendon, ligament, and joint injuries in horses and that it is available for dogs also. We decided to pursue this.
Unfortunately, a couple of days before our stem cell treatment consultation, Jasmine’s ACL tore completely, and a non-surgical solution was no longer an option.
Our final decision was an extracapsular repair for the torn ACL, combined with the stem cell therapy to assist the post-op recovery, and to see if it can save the right knee.
The healing effect on the operated leg turned out remarkable. The right leg was also looking good, and three months after surgery Jasmine had a bounce back in her step.
And then the ligament in the right knee went. It was a big disappointment. Back to surgery and back to rehab.
Fortunately, though, her left leg was already stable enough to provide full support. That’s why we decided to combine the second surgery with the stem cell treatment again. Another three months later, Jasmine was bouncing along and enjoying her life yet again.
The stem cell regenerative therapy is showing great results in the treatment of arthritis, and many other conditions. However, it was not able to save Jasmine’s ligament.
I believe this happened for several reasons.
- Stem cell treatment is a regenerative therapy that works with and enhances the body’s own healing process. Different tissues have different ability to heal and regenerate. Bones and muscles, for example, have a very good capacity for healing. Ligaments, on the other hand, heal poorly. They are subjected to a great deal of stress, and their blood supply is relatively low.
- I believe that Jasmine’s ACL might have been partially torn or stretched in the past, but went undiagnosed by the vets at the time and didn’t heal properly which left the ligaments weakened already.
- I think that the ligament in the right knee was likely stretched, and proper healing of a stretched ligament seems to be less likely than in a ligament partially torn.
- Jasmine’s body was dealing with a number of additional health challenges.
We are very excited about stem cell regenerative therapy. It provided Jasmine with great assistance with her post-op recovery and with her arthritis. Even though it didn’t save her right ACL, if we could go back in time we wouldn’t have done anything differently.
The results of using stem cell therapy for ACL injuries seem to be mixed and depend on the individual dog, the type and degree of the ACL injury and the underlying cause.
Stem cell regenerative therapy can work for partial ACL tears, but the results depend on a number of variables. There are reported cases where stem cell therapy worked.
When the veterinarian does a full evaluation of the cruciate ligament by MRI or arthroscopy, they can tell how bad is the tear. Some veterinarians then decide to use stem cells in smaller injuries instead of surgery and others will add it to the surgery to help in the healing. Consult with a veterinarian you trust. Ask for him to discuss your individual case directly with VetStem.
Note: VetStem technology is using adult stem cells extracted from the patient’s own fat tissue. No embryonic stem cells are used in this procedure.