An Update on a Knee AVN Patient

by Chris Centeno, MD /

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The last time we highlighted Julie Cerrone on the blog, she was getting ready for her first Christmas without crutches, thanks to a Regenexx procedure that had helped her knee AVN heal. I just came across this impassioned speech by her to an FDA hearing on the regulation of stem cells. Julie’s a great natural speaker, and while some of the presenters at this FDA/NIH hearing could drone on and solve the problem of insomnia, you can’t say that about Julie, as she gets her point across.

Knee AVN

Knee avascular necrosis is an awful disease, just like its more common cousin that happens in the hip. The problem is also called osteonecrosis, and it’s caused when the natural stem cells in the bone stop working. The bone can’t keep up with its daily maintenance, and as a result, it begins to collapse. At that point, the only real solution is a knee replacement, which doesn’t work so well if you’re in your 20s, as Julie elegantly states.

Julie’s Story

Julie began having increasing amounts of knee pain after multiple knee surgeries from an early age. She went to many leading orthopedic specialists, and most had no idea what was wrong, but she eventually got the diagnosis of knee AVN. All another gaggle of experts could offer her was to amputate the knee joint at the ripe old age of 26 and insert a prosthesis (knee replacement).

When the surgeons had no answers that made sense, she turned to Regenexx and Dr. John Pitts in our Colorado office, given our long experience in treating AVN bone lesions with precise X-ray–guided stem cell injections. Her bone promptly began showing signs of healing on MRI in a disease that only usually gets worse. Here is her story told around last Christmas.

The FDA Hearing at NIH

The FDA has long since declared that your stem cells if culture expanded to bigger numbers are a drug. This regulation is why no US medical group offers a cultured stem cell procedure in the United States. However, the agency seems to be moving in the direction of regulating same-day fat stem cell treatments (which we don’t offer here) the same way. Hence, many patient advocates showed up at the FDA hearing, as did academics, industry groups, clinics, professional organizations, and so on. We had no idea that Julie would be there, until I saw her video.

The upshot? Julie is a passionate speaker who inspires us every day. She’s an example of what a precise stem cell injection can accomplish. The course of a life wrecked by AVN altered. As she says, going from crutches to “cute wedges” is a game changer!

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4 thoughts on “An Update on a Knee AVN Patient

  1. Pam

    I’ve been following Regenex since about 1990. I had recently read a special issue of Time magazine that spoke of the near future of all sorts of wonderful advancements in science. I’m terribly disappointed the FDA is being so blind at the good stem cells therapy is…it is not a drug! I’m very afraid of knee surgery…I have had enough knee pain…beginning with the pain of falling on them back in the early 80’s and a few more times since, plus the lingering pain that’s been there ever since, oh and the cortisone and synvisc shots to make it possible to keep walking are very painful! I can’t afford to pay cash to have stem cell therapy…so I walk very little trying to spare myself so much pain. And hopefully keep me out of a wheel chair. Until recently my heart was too weak to endure the surgery as well. But not sure if lungs could handle another surgery (just had a new heart valve put in first part of March) lungs have pulmonary hypertension…breathe better since valve surgery tho. Good thing is I don’t have high cloresterol, or high blood pressure. When FDA clears it and insurance starts covering it I’ll be first in line to try stem cell therapy!

    1. Regenexx Team Post author

      Pam,
      Congrats on your blood pressure and cholesterol…keep up the good work! Stem cell procedures, like surgeries (meniscus surgery, ACL reconstruction, knee replacement, etc.), are not eligible for FDA approval. They need to be FDA compliant, which all Regenexx procedures are. Importantly though, in reference to the Cortisone shots, please see: http://www.regenexx.com/steroid-injection-risks/. Good quality supplements can help with pain and inflammation: http://www.regenexx.com/blog/supplement-for-cartilage-protection/

  2. Julie Cerrone

    Thank you so much for sharing this! I feel so passionately about the Regenexx procedures and am SO grateful to your team of amazing physicians! THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU!!!!!

    1. Regenexx Team Post author

      Julie,
      You are a bright light that just keeps shining! So happy to have been able to help your Christmas wish come true!

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.
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