Mr Datta carries out stem cell therapy to treat isolated, full thickness articular cartilage defects and is not necessarily suitable for wide spread established arthritis or as a joint replacement alternative. This is currently not available on NHS, and the ABICUS trial has now ended, therefore this is currently available for insured and self-funding patients of which the guide price is £10,000 per joint (we will provide patients with a bespoke quote following consultation).
The cost of a self-funding initial consultation with Mr Datta is £250. Although Mr Datta sees patients for consultations in Hampshire at Nuffield Health Wessex Hospital and Spire Southampton Hospital, and in London at 25 Harley Street and Princess Grace Hospital, the stem cell therapy procedure is carried out at Spire Southampton and Highgate Hospital only.
Cartilage is a tough, flexible tissue that covers the surface of joints and enables bones to slide over one another while reducing friction and acting as a shock absorber. Damage to this tissue in the knee or hips is common and occurs mainly following sudden twists or direct blows, such as falls or heavy tackles playing sports such as football and rugby, but can also develop over time through gradual wear and tear. Damage to the articular cartilage (chondral defects) does not heal when injured, leading to exposure of the bone itself, this may increase in size over time leading to increased pain and disability. Untreated, chondral defects may eventually lead to osteoarthritis and patients may ultimately require joint replacements to relieve symptoms.
Patients will need to have had an up to date MRI scan so that the cartilage cover can be assessed. It would help if they have already had an MRI prior to initial consultation, alternatively they can see Mr Datta first and he can then arrange this for them. Suitability for stem cell therapy will be dependent on the extent of damage to the cartilage in the joint.
The procedure itself is performed arthroscopically (key hole surgery). Patients often ask whether stem cell therapy involves surgery on two separate occasions which it does not, a single operation is normally required. The procedure is carried out under general anaesthesia, and as a day case for knee patients and often an overnight stay is required for hip patients. An aspirate of the patients blood and/or bone marrow is taken from your pelvic area with a special needle, this is then processed whilst you are in theatre to harvest their stem cells. Whilst this is being done, Mr Datta will perform the arthroscopy to deal with any other issues affecting the joint and to prepare it for the stem cells. Once ready, the stem cells, alongside a suitable scaffold, are then injected through the same keyholes used for the arthroscopy to the area of defect.
Following the procedure, the first 6-12 weeks are very important and patients will require crutches. Knee patients will be required to wear a knee brace for the first 6 weeks with gradual increase of range of motion, and follow a strict toe-touch weight bearing only during this time. Hip patients must be partial weight bearing too with the use of crutches. Patients will also be given exercises to do during the 6-12 weeks.