During pregnancy, a fetus is surrounded a fluid, known as amniotic fluid, that serves to both protect the fetus and aid in its growth. Amniotic fluid has been used in medical treatments as far back as the 1930s.1
Doctors discovered that amniotic fluid was beneficial in treatments such as the healing of wounds. Over time, this treatment has been developed thanks to advancements in the ability to screen donors and amniotic fluid for safety, as well as the ability to safely preserve these tissues at very low temperatures until they are ready for use.
How is amniotic fluid useful?
Amniotic fluid has several properties that make it well suited to medical applications such as healing damaged or degenerated tissues. Many of the molecules contained in amniotic fluid reduce inflammation and immune response.2 Unlike most other tissues found in the body, amniotic fluid is immune privileged, meaning it can be injected into another person without producing an immune system reaction. Further, amniotic membrane tissues contain groups of connected proteins called collagen matrices. These collagen matrices serve as a sort of scaffolding in the healing process. New tissues grow around the framework provided by these collagen matrices. Additionally, amniotic fluid contains stem cells – cells that are capable of differentiating into many different types of body cells (e.g., skin, muscle, cartilage).
What is Amniotic Tissue Therapy?
Amniotic Tissue Therapy is an Applied BiologicsTM tissue product obtained from healthy donors during planned caesarian births. Donors are carefully screened on the basis of medical history, blood tests and tests of communicable diseases. Amniotic tissues are then collected at birth without harm to the mother or baby. These tissues are screened for safety and preserved in a tissue bank until they are needed for treatment. Patients receiving Amniotic Tissue Therapy undergo an injection derived from amniotic fluid into the body part being treated.
We are offering Amniotic Tissue Therapy at a subsidized rate through research studies. One study will assess the efficacy of this treatment in alleviating the pain caused by degeneration of joints in the lower back. Another study will measure the efficacy of Amniotic Tissue Therapy for treating degeneration of joints of the upper and lower extremities (e.g., shoulders, elbows, hips, knees). Patients qualifying for one of these studies will receive a substantial reduction in the treatment price, as Applied Biologics and the Arizona Pain Stem Cell Institute are subsidizing the price for the purpose of the study. Patients’ pain scores, activities of daily living, and medication usage will be assessed both before treatment and over the six months after treatment.
Risks and Complications
Amniotic Tissue Therapy uses tissues that have been thoroughly tested according to standards that exceed those required by regulatory agencies to insure their safety. Additionally, the immune privileged nature of amniotic fluid makes these tissues safe for injection. However, like any injection therapy, there are risks associated with the injection, including irritation or pain at the injection site or possibly infection. Discuss these with your health care provider prior to getting this procedure.
Because many patients’ painful conditions are adequately addressed by conservative treatments, we recommend that patients pursue this treatment only if they continue to experience moderate to extreme pain after trying conservative treatments such as rest, physical therapy and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (e.g., ibuprofen).
What should you expect?
Doctors have had success with Amniotic Tissue Therapy in closing chronic wounds and healing damage to tissues such as muscles, tendons and joints. After receiving Amniotic Tissue Therapy, healing will take between several weeks and a few months to notice the results. Many patients get healing and pain relief after a single injection. However, based on an individual patients’ condition and symptoms and their doctor’s assessment, additional injections may be advised. Further, as with any treatment for pain, not every patient will have success with this treatment.
- Shimberg M. The use of amniotic fluid concentrate in orthopaedic conditions. J Bone Joint Surg Am 1938;20:167-177.
- Aagaard-Tillery KM, Silver R, Dalton J. Immunology of normal pregnancy. Semin Fetal Neonatal Med 2006 Oct;11(5):279-95.