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Stem Cell Therapy in Orthopaedic Surgery

Chin Tat Lim, MD, and Hwan Tak Hee, MD

In spite of significant advances in implant designs and orthopaedic surgical techniques, many degenerative and genetic disorders of the musculoskeletal system remain suboptimally treated. The discovery of human stem cells and the ability to culture and differentiate them into any form of cell has been one of the most exciting scientific breakthroughs of the century. Given that this has a potential clinical role, the future of stem cell therapy is much anticipated in terms of revolutionizing clinical care. This review illustrates that stem cells can be harvested outside of human bone marrow. Adipose and muscle tissues can provide an ample amount of stem cells and allow for minimally invasive modes of stem cell harvesting. With the development of stem cell therapy, there is now a role for regenerative medicine in orthopaedics, focusing on the replacement, repair, and stimulation of a patient’s own intrinsic capacity for healing. This review highlights the latest applications of stem cell therapy in the fields of spine, articular cartilage, bone, meniscus, tendon, and ligament repair and regeneration. Adv Orthop 2010;2(3):81–7.

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