If you have suffered from an orthopedic injury and have looked for a minimally-invasive way to address the condition, you may have heard of stem cell injections. Stem cells for orthopedic treatments have been growing in popularity in the last few years, with the most aggressive clinics offering these treatments in the major metro areas. Some will even go as far as to seize full-page adverts on the front page of the newspaper.
Especially for patients interested in stem cell therapies for hard-to-treat orthopedic conditions, it’s important to understand the facts before committing to a medical procedure that can greatly impact your health. Often, these types of clinics will offer large seminars that double as sale events for these types of procedures. Therefore, it is vital that you understand whether that stem cell clinic is legitimate, or not. To help you discover the truth, we’ve put together a list of the top 7 questions you should ask at a stem cell seminar.
7 Important Questions You Need to Ask at Stem Cell Seminars
1. What are the kinds of stem cells that you use?
It is imperative you ask this question first because the answer will be an indicator of whether you should stay for the rest of the seminar. Typically, if these clinics claim to use amniotic or cord-blood stem cells you shouldn’t stick around. Research has shown that these types of stem cells are in reality dead tissues that contain no live stem cells.
2. Do you use imaging guidance to inject the stem cells?
Understanding the kind of imaging guidance a stem cell clinic uses can help you determine their credibility. A clinic that claims they do not use image guidance is not worth your time, as stem cells cannot mysteriously find their way to an injury via a blind injection. Credible clinics will use imaging guidance technology like ultrasound or fluoroscopy to guide the stem cells to the injury site.
3. Who will be injecting the stem cells?
If they tell you that a nurse practitioner (NP) or a physician’s assistant (PA) is qualified to complete these procedures, you should leave the seminar. Only a licensed physician, as in an MD or a DO, should be completing these procedures. These doctors should be certified by credible organizations. Organizations like the IOF (Interventional Orthopedics Foundation) can provide insight into whether the DO or MD understands the proper procedure to follow when performing these injections.
4. Where will the stem cell procedure take place?
The only appropriate setting for this kind of procedure is a suite complete with musculoskeletal ultrasound technology, full surgical monitoring equipment, fluoroscopy technology and oxygen, an automated defibrillator, and a crash cart. This is to ensure proper placement of the stem cells, measure vital signs, and be properly equipped in the event of an emergency.
5. What clinical research is available on your procedure?
Clinical research is a great way to determine the credibility of a procedure. These studies need to have hundreds of participants that have undergone the exact procedure the clinic is offering. Be wary of presenters who may try to distract you with irrelevant information or statistics unrelated to the procedure itself. If no clinical research is available, this is also a warning sign.
6. Who can undergo the procedure?
If they tell you anyone is eligible, this is not true. Each medical procedure has its own candidacy ranking, including stem cell procedures. Candidacy rankings are important because it can help you determine how your outcome will be following a procedure. This can in turn assist you in the decision-making process.
7. How many patients have had an adverse reaction or no response?
It may be shocking but the answer should always be many! Claims that the procedure has never resulted in a poor response for not one patient tells you that this clinic’s procedure is not credible. There is always a failure rate for every type of procedure, including stem cell injections.
If you’re thinking about a stem cell injection for your orthopedic condition, the answers to these questions can build a clear understanding of the clinic you’re hoping to partner with. If you find yourself at a seminar to learn more about these procedures, do not hesitate to ask any of the above questions to determine the clinic’s credibility.