A stem cell first for Maffra

USUALLY reserved for Hollywood A-listers, liposuction is now on offer for horses and other animals at Maffra — but for quite a different reason.

Last Thursday, a nine-year-old stockhorse became the first horse in Australia to benefit from the new therapy, where liposuction is used to harvest adipose tissue (fat) from the horse’s rump and stem cells are then pulled from the fat tissue.

The stem cells were in this case then injected back into the horse to treat an injured fetlock joint.

During the next few weeks, the stem cells will then begin to grow new muscle, tendons and help regenerate damaged bone and cartilage.

Maffra Veterinary Clinic’s Dr Duncan Runciman explained using liposuction helped make the procedure much less invasive.

“It used to be we’d actually have to cut the fat out,” Dr Runciman said.

“This way, we only make a very small incision, which is a much better situation for the animal.”

Dr Runciman said the process was short, taking only a few hours, and required only local anaesthetic and mild sedatives.

“The whole process takes about three or four hours,” he said.

While stem cell therapy has only been around for a few years, Dr Runciman said he had already seen the huge improvement the therapy had on other animals.

“Aside from regularly injecting cortisone into the joint, when an animal suffers from severe arthritis or joint damage, there’s not a lot you can do for them,” he said.

“It quickly becomes a situation where euthanasia is one of your options, especially for older animals.

“We’ve had amazing results for dogs recently.

“We’ve had people come in with pets that can barely walk without the help of strong medication, and after we inject them with the stem cells, about two weeks later we’ve got a whole new animal, running around like nothing happened.”

The procedure also allows for excess adipose (fatty) tissue to be harvested, which can then be banked if the horse needs to return for successive treatments or needs another joint to be treated.