Horses with tendon injuries traditionally have a high rate of re-injury and tendon breakdown. This is due to the tendon healing with inelastic scar tissue rather than normal tendon.
Stem cells have the ability to develop into different types of cells, therefore by implanting the horse’s own stem cells into the injured tendon, we can provide cells that have the ability to create normal tendon tissue.
Results from around two thousand horses treated with stem cells show a much reduced rate of re-injury compared to horses treated by conventional means.
Many of our vets have undergone training in the collection of bone marrow and implantation of stem cells. We have treated horses with stem cells successfully over the last few years.
The collection procedure is relatively simple and pain-free for the horse.
A sample of bone marrow is taken from the sternum (chest) of the horse. This sample contains many different kinds of cells including fat cells, blood cells, bone cells and of course stem cells. The sample is sent to a specialist laboratory where the stem cells are isolated and grown into large numbers.
Once enough cells have grown, the cells are sent back to us and implanted into the injured area under ultrasound guidance. Both these procedures are carried out in the standing sedated horse.
If the injury is within a tendon sheath, then it will be implanted via key hole surgery under a general anaesthetic.
This treatment is not a quick fix as the same controlled exercise programs need to be followed as with traditional treatments but it results in better quality healing and less chance of re-injury.
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