With all of the new stem cell clinics popping up in the last few years, you have to make sure you do your research before committing to stem cell therapy in Charlotte, NC. For starters, the only way to actually receive real live stem cells for the treatment of joint arthritis or muscle/tendon tears is to make certain the doctor is harvesting them from your own body. These types of stem cells are called autologous. The 2 ways to harvest stem cells from your own body are through bone marrow aspirate and adipose (fat) tissue. The only other autologous procedure is called platelet-rich plasma or PRP, which to be very clear, does not contain stem cells, only growth factors. Please visit NeoGenix Charlotte for detailed information on how each of these procedures work.
There are stem cell clinics in the Charlotte area that making a big deal about counting autologous stem cells after they are harvested from your body. They go on and on about how technologically advanced this is, how labor-intensive it is, and how much better it is for the patient to have their cells “counted” prior to stem cell treatment. In reality, all they are doing is trying to justify why they are charging you thousands of dollars more than other clinics doing the exact same procedures.
The bottom line is none of the most highly respected stem cell experts in the country are doing this, for multiple reasons. The technology to do accurate identification and counting of stem cells is extremely expensive, laborious, and time-consuming. And when we say “time-consuming” we mean it takes DAYS or WEEKS to do it correctly.
Plus, counting stem cells in a patient’s sample entails more handling and manipulation of the sample which delays the time until the stem cells are actually injected into the patient, and could lead to a higher risk of bacterial contamination of the patient’s specimen. Besides, let’s say you went through the effort to actually COUNT the stem cells in a particular patient’s sample. What if the number is on the low side? Are you going to go back to the patient and take MORE stem cell material? No, you’re not, because the patient will likely not let you perform another harvest procedure the same day. So counting is more of an academic exercise. It doesn’t really change the outcome or benefit the patient IN ANY WAY.
To confirm our suspicions about the usefulness of counting stem cells, we contacted Dr. Paul Tortland of the New England Stem Cell Institute in Glastonbury, CT. Dr. Tortland is an internationally recognized leader in nonsurgical sports medicine, musculoskeletal ultrasound, and regenerative medicine, especially in PRP and autologous stem cell treatments. He was the first physician in New England, and among the first in the country, to begin performing PRP and autologous stem cell treatments for orthopedic conditions, in 2007 and 2008, respectively. He was the first physician in the world to receive certification in Regenerative Medicine by the American Academy and Board of Regenerative Medicine. He’s board-certified in Osteopathic Manipulative Medicine and Sports Medicine. Dr. Altizer personally asked Dr. Tortland if there was any utility in counting stem cells prior to treatment. This was his answer, copied verbatim:
So here’s the bottom line:
At point of care, you can only measure total nucleated cell count (TNC). TNC counts measure ALL nucleated cells. From there you have to make an educated guess as to how many of those cells represent progenitor cells. And that number can vary greatly depending on the patient and your harvesting technique.
You need very expensive and sophisticated equipment to measure actual cell counts. To measure CFUs you have to plate out a sample and grow it for 2 weeks to see how many colonies form. To measure cell surface markers to determine if you actually have stem cells (e.g., CD45-), you need even more sophisticated equipment such as mass spectroscopy.
To measure stem cells from adipose, you have to digest the fat using collagenase and then perform counts on the cells once you isolate them. Again, something that no one is doing bedside. And even if you could do that, that does not necessarily indicate what’s happening in vivo. Once you digest the fat and isolate the cells, you have fundamentally changed the properties of the tissue. So it’s more of an academic exercise.
You can measure cell viability bedside, but it still doesn’t tell you what type of cells they are. So, the bottom line is that it’s really blowing smoke. It’s a marketing gimmick.
Hope that helps,
So, the final answer is counting stem cells in a lab is a pointless waste of time outside of an academic research center. For the typical patient getting autologous stem cell therapy it makes absolutely no sense to do it and has absolutely no effect on the final outcome. See our Stem Cell Treatment Options.
All it does is increase the TIME it takes to do an autologous stem cell treatment, increases the manipulation and handling of the patient’s specimen which could increase the RISK of infection, and greatly elevates the COST of the final treatment. So, until research shows a benefit of counting cells and until the renowned experts like Dr. Tortland start doing it, we won’t do it either.
The other type of “stem cell” therapy you will see all over Charlotte are allogeneic products that come from a donor. The popular allogeneic products are umbilical cord tissue, cord blood, and amniotic fluid. The FDA has been very clear on its stance with allogeneic products: THEY DO NOT CONTAIN LIVE STEM CELLS. If any clinic in the Charlotte area tells you their off the shelf, cryo-frozen allogeneic product contains live stem cells, they are flat out lying to you. You will hear all of these clinics advertising all over the radio claiming they are doing stem cell therapy, when in fact all they are providing the patient with is growth factors from amniotic fluid. Most of these clinics are run by Physician Assistants or Nurse Practitioners that simply do not have the training and skill set of an MD to harvest stem cells from a patient, therefore, they are taking the easy road out and offering quick, off the shelf, cryo-frozen products. In these clinics, you may never even see a physician. This is not to say these products are not effective in treating your joint pain. They contain many powerful growth factors that help facilitate the healing process. Some patients also simply do not want to go through the harvesting process or medically are unable to. In these cases, allogeneic products can be effective. NeoGenix offers Stem Cell injections, which of all the allogeneic products on the market, contains the best concentration of growth factors. Check out which areas, including but not limited to shoulder, back, hip and knee, that we work on at Treatment Areas.
You must also be very careful you are not fooled into having a procedure performed at a Chiropractic “straw” clinic staffed solely by inexperienced nurse practitioners or physician assistants in order to cut costs. In these clinics, you may never even see a physician. These clinics might be owned by a medical doctor on paper, but in reality, all patient care is dictated by Chiropractors practicing medicine without a license. These Chiropractic clinics use high-pressure sales tactics and often over-promise or even guarantee results. These clinics are also promising Medicare and commercial insurance coverage for amniotic fluid injections. The coverage for these injections is NOT APPROVED FOR THE TREATMENT OF OSTEOARTHRITIS. The coverage is intended for “wound healing” for diabetic patients. Any Chiropractor offering you these products is manipulating the intent of the approved coverage and you are not only putting yourself at risk, but you are having your procedure performed at a clinic committing Medicare fraud.
We understand we are not the only source for Charlotte stem cells and growth factor treatments, but we are one of the few with an actual MD who oversees your care from start to finish and actually performs your procedures, and our MD has more experience than anyone else in the Carolinas. When it comes to making a decision about your health, make sure you choose a clinic with an experienced, licensed physician that will be open and honest with you. You will get a realistic appraisal of whether or not stem cell and growth factor treatments will work for you, and if Dr. Altizer doesn’t think it will work, he will tell you that, too.
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Based on thousands of stem cell and growth factor procedures performed by Dr. Altizer since January of 2016, over 94% of patients have subjectively, objectively, and through activities of daily living reported the procedure was successful. The success of the procedure was determined by the patient achieving at least a 50% or more overall improvement with lasting results.
When asked after 1 year what their overall improvement was, patients have subjectively, objectively, and through activities of daily living reported an average overall improvement of between 83-84%.