In recent years, we have seen robust growth in the use of orthobiologics for a number of orthopedic injuries. Orthobiologics are organic materials, including cells, tissue, blood components and growth factors, that are used to replace lost tissue, stimulate regeneration and healing, reduce pain and inflammation and/or improve joint function.
Orthobiologics are indicated for the treatment of articular cartilage injuries, osteoarthritis, ligament injuries, and tendon injuries. They may be administered alone as conservative treatment or as part of an orthopedic surgery to help enhance the results, in which case they could be administered at the time of surgery or post-op.
There are several types of orthobiologics. Platelet rich plasma (PRP), which is one of the best-known, is obtained from the patient’s blood after it has been processed to concentrate platelets and certain white blood cells that enhance healing and reduce inflammation. PRP may be injected directly into the damaged tissue during an outpatient procedure or as part of a repair surgery.
Another widely used orthobiologic is bone marrow aspiration concentrate (BMAC). BMAC is obtained after processing bone marrow that is removed from a bone region. BMAC is rich in stem cells, which produce proteins and growth factors necessary for healing and reducing inflammation.
Adipose tissue has also proved to be an effective orthobiologic. Adipose tissue or fat cells have remarkable healing and regenerative properties. It is typically obtained from the patient’s waist, processed to remove impurities and inflammatory components, and then injected at the site of injury.
We have had good results with orthobiologics, and as research into these materials continues, it’s safe to say that more uses will be found to help patients with orthopedic injuries.
Stephen Gould, MD is an orthopedic surgeon in practice with Cullman Regional Medical Group.
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