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Dr. Palumbo Learns in Italy
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May 01, 2017
Dr. Robert Palumbo of OAA’s Sports Medicine Institute recently traveled to Milan, Italy where he had the pleasure of taking part in what most would consider a unique surgery at one of the most famous
orthopaedic hospitals in Italy. While it was a standard shoulder arthroscopy, a procedure Dr. Palumbo has performed countless times, this operation was unique because it incorporated the use of stem cells. Stem cells are a hot topic in the orthopaedic community. Early research focused on stem cells is showing that patients are benefiting from improved healting and observing less postoperative pain following surgery.
The following translated article was featured in the Italian National Newspaper, IL Giorno. It quotes Dr. Palumbo as well as Dr. Riley Williams, a well-known sports medicine surgeon in New York who also observed the operation.
Arthroscopy of the Future Passes from Milan
New Technique to Treat Tendons
American doctors learn at the Gaetano Pini di Milano.
Robert Palumbo, MD and Riley Williams, MD have in fact witnessed in recent hours a tendon repair of the rotator cuff of the shoulder. An operation in ways revolutionary: after the standard arthroscopy, to the patient - in this case a 53-year-old woman - autologous stem cells taken from subcutaneous fat of the abdomen (with a small liposuction) were applied. A method that, according to the study already registered to Clinical Trials (the database of all searches), should completely eliminate postoperative pain and contribute to the return of a good functionality. "The first duty of a doctor - says Dr. Pietro Randelli, director of the First Department of Orthopaedics of the Pines-CTO and surgeon's intervention - is to get a full recovery without too much suffering. The cure comes only later. Our goal is to transform poor tissue into tissues that can heal. We started with the rotator cuff because it is the operation in which there is the highest percentage of poor function after surgery. This treatment is for a problem common to many people: one in two develops problems with these tendons during their lives.
A technique that according to Dr. Williams can also benefit athletes: an example dear to us Italians is the knee of Danilo Gallinari, operated on twice in 2013 - without the hoped-for success using the "Healing Response" method of Dr. Steadman. Dr. Steadman is the same doctor who intervened shortly afterwards on the crusade of Giuseppe Rossi, with disastrous results. "That technique - admits Dr. Williams - was popular in the 90s, but in the new millennium we have made strides in other areas and those techniques should be used".
Gaetano Pini di Milano is a pioneering hospital in orthopedic research. "We have not yet made actual conclusions but the improvements seem obvious on first patients. We carry out a research protocol enlisting two groups: one is to control, while the second group gets injected with the stem cells," said Dr. Randelli. If the results are satisfactory this method will also be massive in the United States. The impositions of the "Food and Drug Administration" - which is the government agency that deals with the regulation of food and pharmaceuticals - becomes very complex to get the permissions to do this kind of research. In Italy, the presence of the 'Ethics' Committees allows for regulatory testing. We then export our skills.
Dr. Robert Palumbo and Dr. Riley Williams agree on the innovation of this technique: “It was a very interesting experience, as it is a relatively new type of operation for American standards.” An authoritative judgment: Dr. Palumbo practices at a prestigious orthopedic group in Allentown and is a recognized consultant for injured athletes. Williams, manages the laboratory for cartilage research at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York, and is the physician of the NBA’s Brooklyn Nets. “Over the next five, ten years, admits Dr. Palumbo, we will find specific stem factors to regenerate cartilage and tissues. It is the sacred grail of medicine. I always joke with those who produce prostheses and tell them that in a few years will no longer work.” Williams, who in his long career has operated on patients like Tyreke Evans and Jarrett Jack, remains intrigued by the allure of biotechnology: “Each operation brings new knowledge and can be a sprint toward a more improved healing process.”
- Author: Luca Guazzoni of IL Giorno