Stem cell technique could improve hip replacement surgery

A new stem cell technique that uses adult stem cells to accelerate the healing of leg fractures could also prove useful in hip replacement operations, an expert has claimed.

The technique, which was developed by an orthopaedic expert at the Royal Melbourne Hospital, has been trialled in five men and four women who had suffered compound bone fractures in serious road accidents.

Bone marrow stem cells are harvested using a needle and then cultivated in a laboratory for six weeks before being applied directly to the fracture.

Eight patients experienced full bone regrowth and one man, who had been using crutches for a year after suffering a compound fracture, was able to use his leg again the day after the procedure and has since recovered fully.

Dr Richard de Steiger, director of orthopaedic surgery at the Royal Melbourne Hospital, told that the technique could be used during hip replacement surgery as well as for the treatment of accidental injury.

"The potential for doing this kind of work is very exciting…if we could try to re-grow cartilage it would mean we'd be able to help people with early arthritis of the knees and hips as a result of sporting trauma," said Dr de Steiger.

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