Bone marrow harvests are typically an “outpatient procedure” meaning you can haul your horse in to the clinic, have the harvest performed and take your horse back home within the same afternoon. You should plan to be at the clinic for about two hours (a bit less or more depending on the case).
Once your horse has had a some time to settle into his stall, get a drink of water, etc. (we know it is a long haul for some of our patients!) we will give him or her a light dose of sedation and walk to the exam room in the main building. You are welcome to come along and watch the procedure!
After that, a local anesthetic will be injected into the skin over the site where the bone marrow needle will be placed, minimizing any discomfort to your horse. Then the area is scrubbed again to ensure that no bacteria are introduced when the bone marrow needle enters the sternum through the skin.
After the site has been adequately prepped, the needle is carefully advanced through the skin, subcutaneous layers, external boney part of the sternum, and into the bone marrow. This part of the procedure requires a lot of experience, skill, precision, and patience on the doctor’s part.
Then, with any luck, bone marrow is aspirated in adequate volumes, placed into appropriate vials, and processed for shipment to the regenerative medicine laboratory.
We will make sure that your horse receives an appropriate anti-inflammatory to ease any discomfort of inflammation from the harvest procedure. After this, your horse can go back to a stall to relax while the sedation wears off, and they are usually ready to trailer about 30 minutes later.
The laboratory requires about 2-4 weeks to process and culture “Autologous mesenchymal stem cells”, and they will contact our clinic when the cells are ready so that we can arrange a time that works for you to bring your horse back for their treatment.