Patients, be wary
I read with interest the recent story “‘Rebuilding people’ has become the mantra of these pain specialists” (Feb. 5), which describes the use of intra-articular injection of stem cells for a variety of orthopedic ailments. The story includes one enthusiastic patient testimonial and the physician’s report of success in many other patients.
However, I was taught long ago that “the plural of ‘anecdote’ is not ‘data,’” and unfortunately, the data supporting the use of this procedure is quite limited. One recent medical review concluded that “while MSCs have shown potential for improving function and decreasing inflammation in animal studies, translation to patients is still in question.”
Indeed, The Chronicle noted that “Regenexx is not covered by insurance, so a patient is responsible for the full cost, which averages about $5,500 for a knee injection.” Patients should be wary that the reason the procedure is not covered is that sufficient evidence has not been put forth to demonstrate the safety and efficacy of this procedure.