Stem cell injections have been a hot topic lately; however, as providers we are still learning how to best utilize these injections. Recent studies have shown that augmenting a rotator cuff repair (RCR) with mesenchymal stem cells (MSC) results in faster healing as well as decreased incidence of re-tear of the rotator cuff. In the article “Biologic Augmentation of Rotator Cuff Repair with Mesenchymal Stem Cells During Arthroscopy Improves Healing and Prevents Further Tears: a Case-Controlled Study” by Philippe Hernigou et al., 100% of cases treated with MSC were healed at six months compared to 67% of the control group that had the RCR without MSC. This study also found that 87% of those treated with MSC had an intact rotator cuff at their ten year follow up compared to 44% of the control group.
This is great news! One of the complications after RCR is failure of the repair or re-tear, and this study shows that this risk could substantially drop with the use of MSC. So why don’t we use these injections on everyone? Insurance companies still do not cover MSC injections; therefore, patients have to pay out of pocket which can be expensive.
Take this information into consideration when talking to your provider about how to best approach your rotator cuff tear.