Much has been made of the stem cell surgery New York Yankees pitcher Bartolo Colon successfully used to rejuvenate his damaged right arm and resuscitate his major league baseball career. The ground-breaking surgery is performed by only a few surgeons -- in fact, only five in the U.S. One of them, Dr. Damon Noto, appeared on WFAN Radio with Joe & Evan earlier this week to discuss the 'Bartolo Colon Surgery.'
Part of the interview appears below, courtesy of Sports Radio Interviews.
Explain how this surgery works? What exactly do you do to make these kind of repairs?
"Let’s talk about his [Bartolo Colon's] surgery in particular. He had something interesting where they took the fat from his body, actually extracted a small amount of fat. They took that fat…They spun it down to get what we call ‘stem cells’ and then they took those stem cells and they re-injected them back into his shoulder. They also took a little bit of his bone marrow, so they did a small procedure where they took a little bit of his blood and the bone marrow out from the bone and they spun it down and got stem cells and they injected that along with it into the shoulder, so basically they’re taking one part of the body, cells from one part of the body and putting it back into another. Those stem cells are what actually causes repair and regenerates the actual tissue in that area and they strengthen that area."
Is there any use of human growth hormone in this surgery? That’s obviously the thing that Major League Baseball cares about in all of this?
"Some of the procedures we are using growth hormone or even some people are using testosterone. For his [Bartolo Colon's] in particular from what I heard they did not use any enhancing agent. These procedures are very powerful on their own. They don’t actually need growth hormone or testosterone, but this is a very new science. We’re calling this ‘regenerative medicine.’ It’s a very new field. What we’re seeing now is that different doctors are experimenting with different techniques. One of them actually is using growth hormones to make it even more effective, but the research is still out on whether or not that is needed. In his case they didn’t use any from what I hear from Dr.Prieto, who I was in good fortune to train with for awhile and he performed the surgery. He did not use any banned substances such as growth hormone or testosterone. You can see the results he got with this procedure."
If this surgery is so successful with Bartolo Colon I would have to think more-and-more players are going to want to get this surgery done?
"Absolutely. You’ve just seen the tip of the iceberg here. This is really going to explode. In the next five years the field of regenerative medicine, using your own body cells to heal itself is going to explode. I mean athletes are really going to be demanding these types of things. Instead of major surgeries they’re going to want to use their own bodies ability to heal."
The doctors who performed Colon's surgery have already claimed that other pitchers are lining up for the procedure. If Major League Baseball ultimately determines that Colon's surgery was done without the use of any banned substances and signs off on its use I think we have reached a new era in treatment of baseball injuries, particularly to pitchers. As common place as the once radical 'Tommy John Surgery' is today, the 'Bartolo Colon Surgery' seems as if it could be the new frontier.