Autologous Conditioned Serum (ACS) or Cytokine Therapy

Interleukin 1 Receptor Antagonist (IL-1Ra) is a powerful “protective” protein that blocks destructive proteins in our joints, helping to relieve pain and inflammation and maintain a healthy joint. Osteoarthritis occurs when our destructive and protective elements become imbalanced and causes cartilage damage; that is, the body produces too many destructive proteins such as Interleukin 1. The patient’s blood is collected and processed to stimulate a high concentration of this “protective” protein (IL-1Ra) which is then injected into the affected area at weekly intervals. This can be used for the treatment of joint pain due to osteoarthritis, tendon or muscle injuries.

Many Australians are affected by Osteoarthritis; it is disease of the joint. The bones of a joint are normally protected by smooth, cushioning material called cartilage. In osteoarthritis, cartilage breaks down, causing pain and stiffness in the joint.

The most common symptoms of osteoarthritis include:

  • painful joints, that usually worsen with exercise or repetitive use
  • swelling of the affected joint
  • creaking, and pain and stiffness that restrict movement
  • weakened muscles surrounding the affected joint and
  • joint deformity

Shoulders, spine, hands, hips and knees are common joints where osteoarthritis develops.

What are the benefits of Cytokine Therapy?
Clinical trial results have shown that Cytokine therapy relieves pain and may delay the need for surgery in some patients. As Cytokine Therapy is based on using only substances that originate from the body of the patient, the therapies are well tolerated.

Patients often experience an improvement of their symptoms; this may include reduced pain and improved mobility.

Am I suitable of this therapy?
You will be required to arrange an appointment with our radiologists with a referral from your GP or sports medicine provider to assess your suitability to undertake this type of injection therapy and treatment. We’ve found that the candidate responds better and receives greater benefit if the osteoarthritis is mild to moderate. You could also be a candidate if you have a chronic tendon or ligament tear that has failed all other forms of therapy.

When are these therapies not recommended?
These treatments should not be started if you are

  • suffering from acute infection or fever
  • have had diarrhoea in the last three days
  • have taken antibiotics at any time in the previous week
  • if you have received a vaccination in the last four weeks
  • if your religious beliefs prohibit blood transfusions

As your own (autologous) blood is used, it is first collected by venesection using either the cytokine therapy syringes. This is the same procedure used in blood tests or blood donations.

The site of the venesection is usually a large vein in your arm. Typically 50 – 60ml of blood is collected. It is important for you to be well hydrated.

This blood is then processed. Firstly, it is labeled and incubated at 37°C for 24 hours; at this stage the “protective” proteins are being synthesized. The blood will then be spun down in a centrifuge for 10 minutes. Following this the concentrated IL-1Ra cells are drawn up from the Cytokine Therapy Syringe using a drawing up needle. The cells are further filtered to remove any unwanted blood components and bacteria leaving pure concentrate IL-1Ra cells. These smaller syringes are labeled and stored ready to be re-injected.

You receive an injection into the affected joint once per week or as the radiologist recommends. Your blood will be stored for up to 3 months.

There are several commercially-available cytokine therapies; please discuss with your referrer which one would be most suitable for you.

Are there any risks or side effects?

  • There are risks or side effects associated with any form of treatment, but significant complications with Cytokine therapy injections are rare.
  • Mild to moderate pain or joint stiffness
  • Minimal or no benefit from the treatment
  • Swelling and/or bruising
  • Redness, warmth or bleeding at the injection site
  • Numbness for up to 2 hours at the injection site (depending on the area).

Post Procedure
When the anesthetic wears off you may ache at the injection site.

  • You may experience pain for 48 hours.
  • You should not participate in strenuous activity/ exercise for 48 hours.
  • If you are concerned that you are having untoward after effects from your injection, please ring “Imaging @ Olympic Park” or your Referring Doctor

Please bring to your appointment
Please bring your referral from your doctor along with the following:

  • Medicare Card
  • Pension/Concession Card
  • Previous films

It is important you understand why and how we will be assisting you. Please feel free to contact our friendly staff at any time if you have any questions or concerns on 03 9420 1700.