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New: Treatment by injecting stem cells to treat avascular necrosis of the femoral head

The Orthopedics B Department at Hillel Yaffe Medical Center has begun treating avascular necrosis of the femoral head using an advanced minimally invasive method, by decompressing the femoral head and injecting stem cells

This surgery was recently performed by Dr. Yaron Berkowitz, Director of the Orthopedics B Department, and Dr. Lior Laver, Director of the Hip Preservation Service, a senior physician in the department and sports medicine specialist. The patient, a 36-year-old male, resident of the Krayot, suffered from avascular necrosis of the femoral head, a condition caused by the disruption of blood supply to the area and which leads to the development of a “diseased” bone and danger of collapse of the cartilage surface and serious damage to the hip.


“The patient arrived at our clinic suffering from severe pain in the left hip,” explains Dr. Yaron Berkowitz. “Thorough investigation, which included an MRI, showed extensive edema, and the patient was diagnosed with avascular necrosis of the left femoral head which caused pain, difficulty walking, and significantly limited functioning. Today, around two weeks after surgery, the man reports significant improvement and that the pain has almost completely disappeared.”


“The accepted treatments today for avascular necrosis of the femoral head include rest and reducing pressure, hyperbaric medicine, surgery for complete hip replacement, and combined minimally invasive surgical treatment including decompression of the femoral head and injecting stem cells,” notes Dr. Berkowitz. “However, we need to suit the best treatment to each patient individually in accordance with their state of health, age, level of activity, and the level of damage at the time of diagnosis.”



Dr. Yaron Berkowitz and Dr. Lior Laver during the surgery at Hillel Yaffe


Advantages of treatment by stem cell injection

“Stem cell injection is a treatment technique which is part of a new and developing area of orthopedics known as ‘orthobiologic treatments’. These treatments essentially make use of the body’s natural potential to heal itself,” explains Dr. Lior Laver. According to Dr. Laver, hip replacement surgery is serious surgery which requires time for rehabilitation, and can lead to further operations later in life, particularly for young patients. Hyperbaric medicine requires a large number of treatments, and carries significant financial costs. In contrast, treatment through decompression of the femoral head and injecting stem cells has several clear advantages: surgery is minimally invasive and lasts for around half an hour; the operation does not involve an external prosthesis but rather employs the body’s natural healing ability; hospitalization is short and includes the option of returning home the same day; there is significantly less pain than from “regular” surgery, and rehabilitation is shorter.


How is it done?

The operation is carried out through two tiny holes. During the first stage, bone marrow cells are removed from the hip region through a tiny hole/ incision in the patient’s side. The substance extracted from the bone marrow undergoes a rapid dedicated centrifugation process. At this time, during the second stage, a decompression is made through an additional tiny hole/ incision in the affected area of the femoral head under the guidance of an x-ray machine and debridement is carried out of the diseased bone. Stem cells which have undergone centrifugation are injected through the same opening and channel created by the decompression. Injecting the stem cells “encourages” the creation of new and healthy bone tissue, and arouses and helps with the body’s natural rehabilitation process.


“It is very important to understand the indications for when this treatment can be used and that it’s suitable in situations when the hip cartilage has not yet collapsed,” notes Dr. Laver, “but this surgery has very good results, and its advantages for the quality of life for the patient, particularly those aged 30-50, are abundantly clear”.


For further information, and to schedule an appointment at the clinic, please call *6742.

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