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Valery Spiridonov, for the MIA “Russia Today” and “Desire for Life”

When discussing the topic of transplantation body, critics often raise the question of the biological compatibility of tissues. Of course, in the case of transplantation of foreign organs, this topic has a rationale, although it is partially solved with the help of narrowly directed immunosuppressants (drugs that lowering immunity).

However, actual transplantation is the ultimate way to save lives. Most of the people who suffer from lack of mobility, became disabled due to diseases and injuries of the spine. Italian neurosurgeon Sergio Canavero promises to solve their problems, but as far as his methods are without alternative?

Communicating with Russian scientists, I see that alternatives for many such cases already exist, at least in the active phase of development.

Today I will talk about a technique in which the body’s own tissues are involved in the treatment, thereby eliminating the problem of rejection. In this I was helped to understand Professor Professor of Research Institute of Traumatology and Orthopedics of name of Priorov George Agasievich Stepanov.

Трансплантология, хирургия, операции на позвоночнике

Professor Stepanov from CITO of name of Priorov

How to abandon the “import” nervous tissue?

The problem of creating new ways of restoring the neural tissue and reconstruction of the spinal cord is more urgent than ever. Existing operations for severe spinal cord injury, such as stabilization of the spinal column, unfortunately, are not always sufficient.

With such damage, all the anatomical structures of the spinal column primarily suffer, which leads to a disruption in the blood circulation of the spinal cord and to the gradual destruction or entrapment of the nervous tissue. Russian scientists have found a solution to this problem, which Dr. Stepanov calls “Spinal cord plastic surgery by a combined vascular-neural autograft”.

As the professor says, the spinal cord itself with its membranes is a multilayered tube, similar to a blood vessel. Therefore, scientists propose to use for the operations on it and its restoration those technologies that are used today or are being developed to repair damaged vessels. The main material for plastic surgery are the patient’s own vessels and nerves from other body tissues.

For example, a nerve placed in an inverted blood vessel will be protected from the aggressive action of the cerebrospinal fluid, so that it can be freely introduced into the damaged segment of the spinal cord and connected to the ruptured nerve fibers.

Subcutaneous veins, converted into “shells” for nerve fibers

The scheme of preparation of the transplant on the basis of a vessel of an shin and one of nerves of legs or foots

As Stepanov notes, this technique is already widely used in medical practice, and the preparation of such “cases” for nervous tissue and its transplantation into damaged segments of the spine is completely safe for patients. To date, such operations have been successfully implemented for 162 patients suffering from injuries or spinal cord diseases.

According to the doctor, in the first 3 to 6 months after the operation the patients gradually begin to feel their limbs and muscles, feel the touch to the skin, feel their bladder and other organs, which was confirmed by measurements according to the international evaluation criteria.




Medicine and the law

All these amazing results, the scientist says, are the fruits of 15 years of work to develop new microsurgical operations, which were presented in 52 publications in peer-reviewed scientific journals and during dozens of scientific conferences abroad and in Russia.

Unfortunately, due to the changes in the Russian health care system and the ban on traumatologists doing operations without neurosurgeons, despite the fact that traumatologists performed these traumatologists for dozens of years (academicians Yumashev and Aganesov, a vivid example), this extremely important work in the clinic had to be stopped. Professor Stepanov has no certificate of a neurosurgeon and a microsurgeon, although all these operations were performed by him personally.

Now, according to a temporary contract, he works in rats to prove that vascular neural grafts are able to conduct signals from one part of the spinal cord to another, which is being prepared for the whole film at CITO.

Personally, I hope that this story will not end with this and the ministry will be able to find ways of an individual approach to this kind of research, because hundreds of thousands of people around the world need it, and these are truly promising export products.

This post is also available in: Russian