The Future of Regen Med Depends on a Change in Thinking

By /

“Violence is the last refuge of the incompetent.”

-Issac Asimov, Foundation

As a nerdy teenager reading science fiction books and engaged in science, Issac Asimov was kind of a hero to me in the same way that sports figures were to most kids. His quote above is important to understand how medicine needs to evolve now that regenerative solutions are here and becoming more popular. Except where you see the term “violence” insert terms like fusion, hardware, and ablation. Let me explain.


If you don’t know the sci-fi author Isac Asimov, you may know the Will Smith movie “I, Robot” or the Robin Smith movie “Bicentennial Man”. Both were Asimov classic short stories and both were cerebral science fiction flicks. His best masterpiece, now being turned into a movie by Apple TV is called “Foundation”. The protagonist is a psychologist mathematician who can predict the future of large groups like whole civilizations. He’s the one that utters the quote above. See the trailer below:

I think what Asimov was telling the reader here was that this was an aspirational goal. That everyone in every situation should strive to avoid violence or war and when one has to resort to either, it should always be considered an abject failure, because only then can we evolve as a species. We need to start doing the same in regenerative medicine.

Join us for a free Regenexx webinar.

The Future of Regenerative Medicine

When I began injecting stem cells into patients 15 years ago, there were few people on earth doing anything similar. Fast forward a decade and a half and regenerative medicine has become a niche market and a “thing”. Sure it has yet to be adopted by a majority of physicians, but it’s appearing more and more often at many mainstream conferences and is becoming a bigger deal year over year. Hence, what does an Issac Asimov quote have to do with the future of regen med? Let’s dig in.

Interventional Orthopedics/Orthobiologics

15 years ago when we first began our regenerative medicine journey with stem cells, we were actually beginning a new medical specialty called “Interventional Orthopedics”. That name has since morphed into ‘Interventional Orthobiologics”. Both terms mean that the doctor uses advanced imaging guidance to precisely place substances capable of healing specific damaged tissues like bone, joints, muscles, nerves, tendons, and ligaments. To see what that’s all about, see my video below:

The Scary Trends

The scary trend that I have seen these past several years is physicians who are using the “Interventional Orthopedics” term that I created, but who are then performing quasi-surgical procedures that go against the grain of regenerative medicine. Meaning these are procedures that use minimally invasive methods to fuse joints, insert metal devices that destroy tissue, ablate nerves, etc… Meaning procedures that clearly destroy tissue rather than repair tissue. Hence, the opposite of “regenerative medicine”.

Why are they doing this? It’s profitable. The companies that make these devices can make a doohickey to implant into a patient or to destroy tissue for tens of dollars and sell it for thousands. Hence, they have huge gobs of cash left over to throw at doctors. Regrettably, cash influences physicians just like it does any other profession.

Join us for a free Regenexx webinar.

Substituting Asimov’s Words

So how can we in regenerative medicine use the quote above? As an aspirational guide to define and push our specialty to evolve. Just like getting rid of violence is aspirational, we should also have the same goal for getting rid of fusion, surgeries or other procedures that destroy tissue, or implant devices that take the place of natural tissues. So you can insert the following:

“[Fusion/ablation/hardware/decompression] is the last refuge of the incompetent.”

That doesn’t mean that there aren’t sometimes still needed, they are. However, when we have to resort to using them, we need to view that as a failure of the regenerative method, not something to be celebrated because we helped a medical device rep make his or her sales quota for the month. It’s only then that we will all push harder to expand the boundaries of what regen med can do rather than becoming comfortable because a procedure was covered by insurance and reimbursed well.

The upshot? We’re never going to get where we need to be in regen med and interventional orthobiologics unless we view every case where we couldn’t help using regenerative methods as an abject failure. That includes using a minimally invasive way to replicate the conceptual failures of the surgical method.

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

If you have questions or comments about this blog post, please email us at [email protected]

NOTE: This blog post provides general information to help the reader better understand regenerative medicine, musculoskeletal health, and related subjects. All content provided in this blog, website, or any linked materials, including text, graphics, images, patient profiles, outcomes, and information, are not intended and should not be considered or used as a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Please always consult with a professional and certified healthcare provider to discuss if a treatment is right for you.

Get Blog Updates by Email

We do not sell, or share your information to third party vendors.

By submitting the form you agree that you’ve read and consent to our Privacy Policy. We may use email, phone, or other electronic means to communicate information about Regenexx.

We will provide information to help you decide whether you want to schedule an evaluation with a Regenexx Physician.

Insurance typically covers evaluations and diagnostic testing (if recommended). Most insurance plans currently do not cover Regenexx Procedures.

Category: Uncategorized
Copyright © Regenexx 2021. All rights reserved.



9035 Wadsworth Pkwy #1000
Westminster, CO 80021


*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.