SASpine recently began providing stem cell treatments, and here, Dr. Cyr discusses new technologies in regenerative medicine and how payers are viewing regenerative treatments.
Q: How do you evaluate new technologies in regenerative medicine?
SC: As with all new technologies, it is important to thoroughly vet the manufacturer or supplier of the products. I personally evaluate whether the bone bank is American Association of Tissue Banks-certified, what sterilization techniques/protocols are used, review any white papers available on the products and look at protocols for testing for infectious disease along with the standards used to ensure quality donor tissue.
Beyond that, I look to see if there are any peer-reviewed articles evaluating the efficacy and safety of each product. I critically evaluate my personal experience with the products, following both the patients’ response to the products and the clinical benefits resulting from their use. This includes regular follow-ups and radiographic studies, such as CT scans to evaluate fusions, clinical results related to radicular symptoms and axial pain as well as an MRI when evaluating potential changes in disc appearance.
Q: How are payers viewing regenerative treatments for spine conditions now? Do you see their attitudes changing in the future?
SC: Unfortunately, payers are still unwilling to pay for most regenerative treatments. I hope their attitudes change as we show clinical results and cost savings that ‘force’ them to pay attention. In the meantime, it’s not unreasonable for them to be skeptical. I do feel we need to do a better job showing the clinical efficacy of these techniques with quality research. I’m sure that will happen in time but feel it’s a shame that patients are forced to pay out of pocket for treatments that could potentially save them from chronic pain, narcotics addiction, multiple surgeries and future cost to the system.
Where regenerative treatment promise at least the potential and hope of reversing the clock, other options merely provide a temporary solution that does nothing to alter the future of these conditions — the exception being a spinal fusion for an unstable or malaligned spine. The hope is that one day, nearly every condition ailing the human body will have a regenerative treatment that effectively eliminates, or at least dramatically improves it.
For more information about SASpine’s Stem Cell Treatment Program, visit www.saspine.com or call (210) 487-7463 in San Antonio or (832) 919-7990 in Houston.