Autologous concentrated fibrin disc repair is a novel non-surgical technique used for the treatment of painful, leaky discs. Dr. Wolff has worked over the last ten years to develop a specialized method of concentrating products from your own blood to create a “disc sealant” with regenerative properties that can be injected into your damaged disc.
Why use Autologous Fibrin Disc Repair?
- Chronic back pain is often difficult to treat. Studies have shown that a damaged disc is often the source of low back pain. The disc can be painful either because of tears in the disc wall referred to as internal disc disruption (annular tears), or disc degeneration, part of the natural aging process.
- Traditionally, the only treatment for a painful disc has been surgical fusion which involves the destruction of the disc and placement of a combination of metal rods, screws, and an inflexible spacer between the vertebrae in place of your own flexible disc. However, recent developments in regenerative medicine offer a promising alternative to spinal fusion.
- Autologous (meaning taken from your own body) concentrated fibrin disc repair, combined with platelet-rich plasma (PRP) and donated stem cell products is proving to be an effective treatment for painful discs. This minimally invasive, natural treatment should be considered before choosing more invasive spinal fusion surgery.
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How does it work?
- A sample of your blood is taken and processed to concentrate fibrinogen (part of the normal clotting cascade), along with potent anti-inflammatory and growth factors. This concentrated solution of fibrin is combined with your own platelet-rich plasma and donated stem cell factors from a newborn’s placenta. Then, using fluoroscopic (x-ray) guidance, this concentrated solution is carefully injected into the damaged area of your painful disc and activated. The combined factors fill the tears in the disc wall (the annulus) and seal them.
- The fibrin, stem cell products, and growth factors combine to facilitate healing of the disc by repairing damaged disc tissue and stimulating the growth of new tissue. This provides increased strength and stiffness of the disc wall and helps to stave off, slow down, or even reverse degeneration. The addition of stem cell products combined with your fibrin and PRP provides additional potent anti-inflammatory and regenerative benefits. Additionally, stem cell products injected into the nucleus help to regenerate the water-loving, “cushioning” function of the disc. Ultimately, this treatment results in a healthier, less painful disc and improvement in your low back pain.
What to expect during and after treatment
This minimally invasive outpatient procedure takes about one hour and is performed in our state-of-the-art surgery center. The patient receives a local anesthetic and has the option of mild intravenous (IV) conscious sedation to ensure maximum comfort during the procedure. A needle is carefully advanced under x-ray guidance into the disc. Autologous fibrin concentrate, PRP, and stem cell products are injected, filling the gaps/tears in the disc.
- It is normal to be sore for a few days after the procedure. Both the level of discomfort and the recovery time is minimal, and both are significantly less than you would experience after spinal fusion surgery.
- There is usually some downtime that could range from a few days to a few weeks post-procedure depending upon the condition and number of discs treated.
- You may have some work restrictions for several days to weeks depending upon the type of activity involved at work (sedentary vs. physical).
- You may have some restrictions from sports activities for a few weeks to months depending on the condition being treated, its severity, and the sport involved.
- You may use mild pain medications as needed for a few days after the procedure if you experience pain.
- Most people notice an improvement in their symptoms within several weeks of the procedure. Progressive improvement may continue for six months.
An explanation – The above “before” image of a patient with low back pain who has a degenerative disc with an annular tear at L4-5 (yellow arrow). The “after” images demonstrate repair of the annular tear. Clinically, the patient had resolution of their low back pain.
Fibrin disc repair FAQs
How can I prepare for fibrin disc repair?
Patients at Southwest Spine & Sports can prepare for fibrin disc repair by making sure their bodies are healthy and fit prior to their procedure. The healthier you are, the better chance your body will respond well to treatment. Our staff will let you know if you should avoid taking any medications or supplements before fibrin disc repair.
Why choose us for fibrin disc repair?
Southwest Spine & Sports is proud to employ board-certified physical medicine and rehabilitation doctors to provide for patients in need of fibrin disc repair. These specialists are trained in minimally invasive spinal procedures so patients can recover successfully. We hope to build personal relationships with each patient — so they feel comfortable with the treatment.
What about surgery?
While many people turn to invasive surgery to treat pain in the back, muscles, and joints, this isn't always the most ideal option. Our procedure in Scottsdale, AZ, is minimally invasive, which means the chances of complications are much lower than for traditional surgery. There's also a shorter recovery time so patients can get back to their normal routines more quickly.
Patient Success Story
Interview with Dr. Wolff
Read Health and News Blog
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