Stem cell treatments for canine arthritis

October 7, 2010 7:21:04 PM PDT
Stem cells are the cutting edge of medicine in the human world. But now, a new high-tech pet hospital is using them to treat common conditions in animals.

He may be a senior citizen in dog years, but 13-year-old Angus is moving pretty well these days. His owner, Anna Kim, says it is a remarkable turnaround.

"Before the procedure he could not even sit down. He would attempt to sit down and just stand up and give up," she says.

The pain was the result of severe arthritis. So Kim opted for an emerging stem cell treatment being offered by the Adobe Animal Hospital -- a new high-tech veterinary center in Los Altos.

"What we do with them now at this point is inject the arthritic joints to reduce the overall inflammation," says veterinarian Brian Maxwell.

Maxwell performed the same procedure on Stella, a yellow lab suffering arthritis in her shoulder.

The operating room Maxwell uses is part of a 14,000-square foot facility with five surgical stations and two separate ICUs. It is equipped with everything from a dentistry center to multiple ultrasound suites and advanced x-ray labs.

"We're very fortunate to have all the technology we that we were able to build into this facility," says Maxwell.

Maxwell injected the stem cells into Stella's shoulder in a procedure that takes about 10 minutes. While the use of stem cells to treat canine arthritis is still being researched, one company-funded study found the injections reduced inflammation and increased joint mobility by about 30 percent.

"We definitely are looking at overall quality of life improvement," he says.

And while Stella heads to recovery, Kim and her dog Angus are enjoying the increased mobility she believes is a result of his treatment.

"He could sit, probably a couple days after surgery, and now he walks with a bounce," says Kim.

The vet stem procedure, from start to finish, runs between $3,000 and $3,500.


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