Stem cell therapy has come across as a saviour for patients who were not responding to any other treatment and were only left with the option of amputation. In the last three years, limbs of more than 80 patients have been saved by AIIMS’ doctors using this method.
In a condition called critical limb Ischemia, blood vessels in the lower or upper limb develop blockages due to clot formation, lipid deposits and atherosclerosis, among others.
The common symptoms include pain in the calf muscles at rest or on a minimal walking of 10-20 meters and ulcers on the foot which do not heal.
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“In certain situations, we can use techniques like balloon angioplasty or stenting. But close to 1/3rd of these patients are not suited for such methods, and unfortunately end up with amputation,” said Dr Sanjiv Sharma, Head, Cardiac Radiology, AIIMS.
At AIIMS, the doctors have just completed a three-year study on ‘Trial on the safety and efficacy of stem cells in critical limb eschemia’. In this, the patient’s own cells, without any processing, are injected into the patient on the same day for treatment.
“As many as 80 patients who were not suited for any other treatment were selected. The study got completed in July and the long-term follow up is being accumulated,” Dr Sanjiv said. “The experience says that it is a safe treatment and does not produce any complication. The risk of amputation is reduced in patients who receive stem cell therapy,” the doctor added.