Stem Cell treatment of partially torn biceps tendon.
Biceps tendon injury is a common cause of shoulder pain in dogs. In veterinary medicine, the traditional treatment has been surgical – the tendon is cut from its attachment point so that it no longer is a source of pain. The problem is that once cut, the tendon is no longer a source of stability for the shoulder and now there is an increased chance of other injuries occurring, including rotator cuff injuries or damage to the supraspinatus tendon. SURGICALLY CUTTING THE BICEPS TENDON SHOULD ONLY BE USED AS A LAST RESORT AFTER ALL OTHER TREATMENTS HAVE FAILED!
Rehabilitation therapy (the veterinary equivalent of physiotherapy) offers a new option for treating this condition and is successful in most minor cases where the amount of tendon tearing is not too great. However, some cases fail to respond to rehabilitation, and unfortunately many of those cases then proceed straight to surgery.
Now there is another option for biceps (and many other) tendon injuries if rehabilitation therapy alone is not enough to fix the problem. We are now able to use stem cells to regenerate new healthy tendon, as well as to resorb scarred or calcified tendon tissue. Click here to learn more about regenerative medicine options and uses.
This is an ultrasound of a damaged biceps tendon that I examined last summer. I know, looking at ultrasound images can be confusing, much like trying to read television static, so I added fancy graphics. Healthy tendon should have an even level of “whiteness” on ultrasound, with easily distinguished fibers running along its length. Damaged tendon has mixed colouring of light and dark tissue, with disruptions of these fibers.
The blue lines show the outline of the bones. See how the tendon (in red) crosses from the forelimb on the right to the shoulder blade on the left? It spans across the shoulder joint, which provides stability and is why we want to preserve it if at all possible.
The tendon itself is outlined in red. As you can see, there is quite a bit of colour variation and fibre disruption evident. This is a badly damaged biceps tendon. We tried fixing the tendon using rehabilitation therapy techniques, but unfortunately those techniques didn’t work in this case. Without some other treatment, this dog would never return to full and pain free activity again.
Here is the same tendon 3 months after injection with stems cells collected from the dog’s bone marrow and injected into the damaged tendon. See the difference?
This tendon has a much better level of “whiteness”, uniform colouring and good fiber definition. We anticipate that this dog will return to full activity on the shoulder.
If you would like to have your pet assessed and possibly treated using these techniques, please contact one of the hospitals where Dr. Lane works.