Interventional Orthopedics Isn’t Magic Pixie Dust—It’s Creative Disruption

by Chris Centeno, MD /

Since I see my job as creating a new medical specialty that will transform orthopedics from a surgical to a percutaneous specialty (injection-based), you might imagine that my views on things will sometimes rile up orthopedic surgeons. Some of them see what’s coming down the pike, and a handful are even hard at work trying to adapt and invent their own version of the future. However, for most, it’s like I’m speaking Mandarin. Instead of recognizing what’s happening in that seed change, they instead erroneously believe that Regenexx must be all about the magic-stem-cell pixie dust. You can certainly see why. It seems like most of the vendors of machines, devices, and magic amniotic or cord “stem cells” take the same magic-pixie-dust point of view. So this morning I’d like to set the record straight for all— Regenexx is about inventing interventional orthopedics using orthobiologics as tools. It’s about creative disruption of an entrenched and invasive medical specialty, and, yes, it’s about making a large chunk of existing surgical orthopedics obsolete.

Imagining the Future Is Hard for Some People

This morning Airbus just showed an amazing concept of a future air-transport network. Basically, it’s a pod with seats that can autonomously add a skateboard-type module to become a car or instead have a quadcopter module fly in to attach itself to the roof. In that way you can get from point A to B driving or flying and let the system do the work. However, what they teased and didn’t show is as important as what they did. All the parts of this system have an Airbus logo on them instead of an airline logo. Even more curious is that a jet manufacturer didn’t show this pod being hooked into a jet module. Why? They wanted to both tease the future of autonomous air travel where pilots and crews become obsolete as well as stay away from making the airlines feel threatened. After all, who needs Delta or United when these pods, skateboards, and quadcopter parts all fly around doing their own thing? Certainly not Airbus nor Boeing.  However, most people who watch this video will never notice the subtle messaging.

The same is happening right now in orthobiologics, which includes the use of stem cells and platelets but also many other types of substances that can heal. A few smart orthopedic surgeons see the handwriting on the wall. They notice that if we have better and better substances that can heal tissue, the entire concept of a knee replacement or debridement or other surgery can itself become obsolete. They see that if you can heal an ACL ligament with a precise injection using X-ray guidance, then what’s the utility of arthroscopy? In that world, arthroscopy becomes an overly invasive procedure. They see that if you can bring tissue together through a needle to fix something like a retracted tendon, then why is surgery needed? However, most surgeons don’t see it yet. They can’t imagine a world where most of the procedures they perform today are no longer state of the art. They’re just like the airlines in the example above who will never see what the Airbus video really means. Or they’re just like the cardiovascular surgeons in the 1980s who couldn’t imagine a world where most men with angina didn’t get open-heart surgery. That was, until most men with angina got a stent placed through a catheter by a different medical specialty called interventional cardiology.

What Is Interventional Orthopedics?

If you haven’t watched the IOF video “What Is Interventional Orthopedics?” this is a great time to get up to speed.

More specifically, the core tenants of this new medical specialty follow:

  • Injectates (i.e., what’s injected) that can facilitate healing of bone, tendon, ligament, muscle, or cartilage
  • Precise placement of those injectates into damaged structures using imaging guidance
  • The eventual development of new tools to facilitate percutaneous tissue manipulation

Notice how what’s injected, like stem cells or platelets, is only one of the three things that make up this new specialty. Just as important is the precise placement of what’s injected and new the tools that will be needed to bring it all to fruition. The orthopedic surgeons don’t really get these two key parts. They believe that stem cells and PRP are magic fairy dust to sprinkle into their existing surgeries or, far worse, a business plan to make some extra cash on the side.

Botox for Orthos

Six or seven years ago, I was speaking to an orthopedic surgeon about stem cells. I told him what we were doing and why. The only way he could grasp it is to put it in the context of cosmetic dermatology. He had seen many of his dermatology friends adding cash procedures to their practices like Botox. These cosmetic procedures weren’t game changing technologies, just something to improve the bottom line. So he blurted out, “Oh, I get it, this is like Botox for orthos.” At that point, I found a way to politely get off the phone.

Hence, orthopedic surgeons still have a hard time figuring out that what we’re doing at Regenexx is very different. While we love to teach doctors how to make the best possible stuff to inject and take pride in the research behind our proprietary platelet and stem cell preps, how we precisely get it to the right place and the future devices that will allow much of orthopedic surgery to be made obsolete is also the focus. In other words, Regenexx is about the creative disruption of orthopedic surgery through the invention of interventional orthopedics. This is why we don’t add just any doctor with a heartbeat and a medical license to our network and why we do require extensive knowledge of image-guided musculoskeletal procedures.

The upshot? My job is to reinvent orthopedics from the ground up as an interventional specialty. I arrive at work every day asking myself what orthopedic surgical procedure can I make obsolete today? In essence, the creative disruption of an entrenched and invasive medical specialty. Patients have been benefiting from the shift from more-invasive to less-invasive procedures since the ’80s, and they will benefit from healthy competition between surgical and interventional orthopedics as well. Will all orthopedic surgeries go away? No. There will always be a place for orthopedic surgery. However, it’s easy to see a future where we do fewer and fewer each year!

Category: Latest News

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

8 thoughts on “Interventional Orthopedics Isn’t Magic Pixie Dust—It’s Creative Disruption

  1. Robin

    Such a very timely article. On Tuesday, I sat next to an orthopedic surgeon on my flight back from receiving treatment from Dr. Schultz. Always interested in discussing the subject of regenerative medicine, I struck up a conversation with the gentleman to get his thoughts on same. True to form the question / subject matter “riled” him up. The attorney in me (as I tend to do) tried to persuade him that interventional orthopedics is the now and the future but he could or did not want to see the light. Pity!

  2. Diane Fay

    Great article…and information to pass on to others ..
    This one sentence was inspirational…
    “It’s about creative disruption of an entrenched and invasive medical specialty, and, yes, it’s about making a large chunk of existing surgical orthopedics obsolete.”
    I took it a step closer to my own situation….(with pain to my right hip.,back, leg etc..).” the creative disruption” of the sensitivity and reactivity of this pain….has creatively been disrupted.!!!…..using orthobiologics from my body and your clinic…so extremely helpful !!!…..The mental piece of this pain…is disrupted and I can focus on it being less…instead of thinking it won’t ever be … more help is needed for this focus to make it “obsolete” on my part but I am getting there…..and I am glad I have you guys to go to…Thanks!

    1. Regenexx Team Post author

      Thanks Diane! Loved the comment!

  3. Lee Aten

    Is the treatment procedure painful?

    1. Regenexx Team Post author

      Lee,
      Evryone’s pain tolerance is different. All procedures are injection based, so the injections themselves would be similar to injections you would ususally get at a Dr.’s office.

  4. Stacy Lukens

    As a mom with a child with a stand alone labral hip tear trying to avoid surgery while using PT, I am excited to hear there might evemtually be “another way!”

    1. Regenexx Team Post author

      Stacey,
      Thankfully, treatment is available now. Please see: http://www.regenexx.com/the-regenexx-procedures/hip-surgery/

  5. Genny

    As long as surgical professionals refuse to embrace less invasive techniques, the general public will be reluctant to open their minds to the incredible possibilities of these remarkable procedures. Quality health care is about improving the body, not tearing it apart as is an essential component of most orthopedic surgical techniques. Thank you Regennex for this huge improvement in health care.

Chris Centeno, MD

Regenexx Founder

Chris Centeno, MD is a specialist in regenerative medicine and the new field of Interventional Orthopedics. Centeno pioneered orthopedic stem cell procedures in 2005 and is responsible for a large amount of the published research on stem cell use for orthopedic applications.
View Profile

Get Blog Updates by Email

Get fresh updates and insights from Regenexx delivered straight to your inbox.

Regenerative procedures are commonly used to treat musculoskelatal trauma, overuse injuries, and degenerative issues, including failed surgeries.
Select Your Problem Area
Shoulder

Shoulder

Many Shoulder and Rotator Cuff injuries are good candidates for regenerative treatments. Before considering shoulder arthroscopy or shoulder replacement, consider an evaluation of your condition with a regenerative treatment specialist.

  • Rotator Cuff Tears and Tendinitis
  • Shoulder Instability
  • SLAP Tear / Labral Tears
  • Shoulder Arthritis
  • Other Degenerative Conditions & Overuse Injuries
Learn More
Cervical Spine

Spine

Many spine injuries and degenerative conditions are good candidates for regenerative treatments and there are a number of studies showing promising results in treating a wide range of spine problems. Spine surgery should be a last resort for anyone, due to the cascade of negative effects it can have on the areas surrounding the surgery. And epidural steroid injections are problematic due to their long-term negative impact on bone density.

  • Herniated, Bulging, Protruding Discs
  • Degenerative Disc Disease
  • SI Joint Syndrome
  • Sciatica
  • Pinched Nerves and General Back Pain
  • And more
Learn More
Knee

Knees

Knees are the target of many common sports injuries. Sadly, they are also the target of a number of surgeries that research has frequently shown to be ineffective or minimally effective. Knee arthritis can also be a common cause for aging athletes to abandon the sports and activities they love. Regenerative procedures can be used to treat a wide range of knee injuries and conditions. They can even be used to reduce pain and delay knee replacement for more severe arthritis.

  • Knee Meniscus Tears
  • Knee ACL Tears
  • Knee Instability
  • Knee Osteoarthritis
  • Other Knee Ligaments / Tendons & Overuse Injuries
  • And more
Learn More
Lower Spine

Spine

Many spine injuries and degenerative conditions are good candidates for regenerative treatments and there are a number of studies showing promising results in treating a wide range of spine problems. Spine surgery should be a last resort for anyone, due to the cascade of negative effects it can have on the areas surrounding the surgery. And epidural steroid injections are problematic due to their long-term negative impact on bone density.

  • Herniated, Bulging, Protruding Discs
  • Degenerative Disc Disease
  • SI Joint Syndrome
  • Sciatica
  • Pinched Nerves and General Back Pain
  • And more
Learn More
Hand & Wrist

Hand & Wrist

Hand and wrist injuries and arthritis, carpal tunnel syndrome, and conditions relating to overuse of the thumb, are good candidates for regenerative treatments. Before considering surgery, consider an evaluation of your condition with a regenerative treatment specialist.
  • Hand and Wrist Arthritis
  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
  • Trigger Finger
  • Thumb Arthritis (Basal Joint, CMC, Gamer’s Thumb, Texting Thumb)
  • Other conditions that cause pain
Learn More
Elbow

Elbow

Most injuries of the elbow’s tendons and ligaments, as well as arthritis, can be treated non-surgically with regenerative procedures.

  • Golfer’s elbow & Tennis elbow
  • Arthritis
  • Ulnar collateral ligament wear (common in baseball pitchers)
  • And more
Learn More
Hip

Hip

Hip injuries and degenerative conditions become more common with age. Do to the nature of the joint, it’s not quite as easy to injure as a knee, but it can take a beating and pain often develops over time. Whether a hip condition is acute or degenerative, regenerative procedures can help reduce pain and may help heal injured tissue, without the complications of invasive surgical hip procedures.

  • Labral Tear
  • Hip Arthritis
  • Hip Bursitis
  • Hip Sprain, Tendonitis or Inflammation
  • Hip Instability
Learn More
Foot & Ankle

Foot & Ankle

Foot and ankle injuries are common in athletes. These injuries can often benefit from non-surgical regenerative treatments. Before considering surgery, consider an evaluation of your condition with a regenerative treatment specialist.
  • Ankle Arthritis
  • Plantar fasciitis
  • Ligament sprains or tears
  • Other conditions that cause pain
Learn More

Is Regenexx Right For You?

Request a free Regenexx Info Packet

REGENEXX WEBINARS

Learn about the #1 Stem Cell & Platelet Procedures for treating arthritis, common joint injuries & spine pain.

Join a Webinar

RECEIVE BLOG ARTICLES BY EMAIL

Get fresh updates and insights from Regenexx delivered straight to your inbox.

Subscribe to the Blog

FOLLOW US

Copyright © Regenexx 2019. All rights reserved. | Privacy Policy

*DISCLAIMER: Like all medical procedures, Regenexx® Procedures have a success and failure rate. Patient reviews and testimonials on this site should not be interpreted as a statement on the effectiveness of our treatments for anyone else.

Providers listed on the Regenexx website are for informational purposes only and are not a recommendation from Regenexx for a specific provider or a guarantee of the outcome of any treatment you receive.