Osteoarthritis of the knee is one of the leading causes of functional limitation and progressive deterioration in the quality of life. Nonsurgical treatment of the osteoarthritic knee has been the usual and customary weight reduction directive, recommendation for physical therapy, prescription for non-steroidal anti-inflammatories, followed by injections with corticosteroids and hyaluronic acid. The goal is to reduce pain and improve function but the classical non operative approach is not universally successful or long lasting. Alternatives are continually sought to provide pain relief and improve functional outcomes.

Recently, there has been a major initiative to introduce Amniotic Fluid in the treatment of the osteoarthritic knee. Allograft (from a third party) amniotic tissues have a long history of clinical use having been first reported in 1938. It is thought to be a homologue to synovial fluid, acting as a cushion to protect and lubricate in the closed environment of the knee. A recent study measured the safety and efficacy of processed allograft amniotic fluid in treating osteoarthritic knees using common, validated outcomes measurement tools. In the registry review, early outcomes suggest that the use of processed amniotic fluid allograft may offer a safe and effective treatment for OA of the knee for 90 days. The suggestion is that this treatment may be more durable than single corticosteroid injections and perhaps hyaluronic acid treatments. The study providing the background for this blog is still in progress. Of interest is the fact that no claim is made in the article supported by the pharmaceutical company that amniotic fluid is chondrogenic or contains stem cells. The latter is an extremely important consideration; beware of those who promote amniotic fluid on their web sites as providing viable stem cell content. As of this time, while amniotic fluid may contain cytokines (anti-inflammatories) and growth factors, it is only to be considered in the same category and comparable, perhaps longer lasting than a corticosteroid injection or a hyaluronic acid intervention.

The standard of Regenerative Medicine and Cellular Orthopedics remains Bone Marrow Aspirate Concentrate as the best source of anti-inflammatory cytokines, growth factors and only FDA approved source of viable adult mesenchymal stem cells. In spite of the FDA approval mandate, as recent as this morning, I received an invitation to attend a course that would teach me how to use adipose derived stem cells in my practice. Let me emphasize two points, Amniotic Fluid does not have viable stem cells until proven otherwise and adipose derived stem cells are illegal for use in the musculoskeletal system. That being said, even if adipose derived stem cells were FDA approved and thus available; bone marrow aspirate concentrate provides  the Cytokines and the growth factors not found in fat while bone marrow aspirate concentrate provides stem cells not found in processed amniotic fluid.

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