Originating from Big Valley Labradors owned by Willie and Agneta Taylor, in Enderby, British Columbia, ( http://www.bigvalleykennel.com/ ) a black lab puppy found her way into the Todd family. Maggie has been a working gun-dog for ten years, and as such has led an active life with her fair share of minor injury in the rough and tumble of retrieving all types of upland birds and water fowl in all manner of difficult terrain. Like many canine athletes she is also a much loved house dog, splitting her time between the field and home with the turning of the seasons.
Back in 2012, we saw Maggie and her owner because she was lame. She was having a bit more trouble with the long days and seemed stiff and sore after exercise.
A detailed orthopedic examination revealed that Maggie had multiple low grade orthopedic issues. Both of her knees were mildly inflamed, likely as a result of low grade partial cruciate ligament tears, and she was also sore in her right hip and lumbar spine. X-rays confirmed the physical examination findings.
After a long discussion about the options her owner decided to try Regenerative Medicine using Stem Cells. This is leading edge medicine, using the patient’s own stem cells, extracted from body fat and then injected back into the body to provide tissue repair and pain relief.
We began by harvesting the abdominal fat of the Falsiform Ligament via a laparoscopic procedure. Using the surgical telescope we were able to harvest the ligament through a minor abdominal incision, meaning that Maggie had minimal down-time and discomfort. The fat was packed in special transport tubes and sent by express courier to the FDA Inspected Lab facility of Vet-Stem for processing and Stem Cell Banking. Forty-Eight hours later the refined stem cell doses were back at the hospital and several spare doses were frozen for later use if necessary.
We injected stem cells into Maggie’s left coxofemoral joint and right stifle under sedation and Maggie was good to go.
The interesting thing about stem-cell therapy is that the results are not instantaneous, because we are using living cells which grow and differentiate into new tissue, while also providing support and anti-inflammatory mediators. That means patience is required on the part of the Doctor and the owner in assessing results.
Initially the patient is rested for a week and then rehabilitation through gentle exercise and range of motion exercises is begun. Maggie also received laser therapy treatment during this time. Often during this phase, the owner may feel that nothing, or very little is happening, and they may wonder if all the expense was worth it!
That was true for Maggie’s owner, but we advised him not to be discouraged and slowly, almost imperceptibly at first, he noticed the change. Maggie’s lameness receded, her stiffness after exercise reduced, and after a few months she was back at her old activity levels.
Time passed as time does, and at one of her recheck appointments, her owner commented that he thought she was feeling her age a bit more, and although she was not lame her post exercise stiffness was returning and her enthusiasm to exercise was a bit reduced. After a discussion it was decided that it was time to call down some stored stem cells and retreat Maggie.
Rather than treat her individual joints we decided to treat Maggie with an intravenous dose of stem cells. Again, this can seem very anticlimactic. Banked stem cells were unfrozen, checked for viability and freighted overnight across an international border. The patient arrived and received a small intravenous injection. The procedure took about 15 minutes from start to finish, and then the patient went home, looking and feeling no different. A couple of weeks passed. Maggie’s owner was feeling a little discouraged, but then the magic began again, and Maggie slowly began to feel better and a few weeks later she was running up and down the stairs again like her younger self.
Maggie is turning 11 years old this month, and is exercising and working at a high level without the need for any drug therapy. We are awed by her continued enthusiasm for life and she is a great poster child for the power of regenerative medicine.
Maggie’s owners have been extremely happy with both stem cell procedures as they saw a “vast improvement” in Maggie’s ability to continue enjoying her activities along side her family, both of which, she loves so much.
Happy 11th Birthday Maggie from all of us at Riverside Small Animal Hospital!