Construction of the first ambulatory surgery center (ASC) in the Pacific Northwest designed specifically to treat outpatient total joint replacement and spine disorders is now underway, and among the healthcare leaders looking forward to its completion is Rahul Desai, M.D., an internationally recognized musculoskeletal radiologist. Dr. Desai is one of a group of physicians affiliated with the new, 15,000-square-foot Oregon Surgical Institute being built in Beaverton, OR.

A fellowship-trained musculoskeletal and spinal interventional radiologist, Dr. Desai is especially interested in the potential for the new center to enhance the quality of patient care by bringing together a diverse group of physicians, from orthopedic total joint replacement surgeons and neurosurgical and orthopedic spine specialists, to sports medicine and restorative medicine experts.

“The new center will offer a collaborative environment for like-minded clinicians to focus on the health and well-being of their patients, bringing together advanced skill sets with the singular focus of improved outcomes,” Dr. Desai says. “It’s being built to support the unique needs of musculoskeletal procedures, featuring wider halls and larger operating rooms, plus specific aftercare areas and a rehab unit for post-op therapy. The design truly has the future in mind, which is exciting,” he says.

A pioneer in the use of cutting-edge orthobiologic therapies such as Platelet-Rich-Plasma (PRP), Stem Cells, and Amniotic Membrane-Derived Growth Factors to treat tendon, ligament, joint and spine pathology, Dr. Desai plans to continue his groundbreaking work in the areas of stem cell injection therapy and regenerative medicine at the new center, which is a joint venture between Regent Surgical Health and Beaverton-based West End Surgical, LLC.

“A few years after I started practicing, I became more and more frustrated with the standard of care for many degenerative orthopedic and spine conditions. The patients were suffering from issues that were painful to the point of debilitation, but we only had palliative options, such as cortisone injections, narcotic pain management, or referrals to surgeons. Often the painful condition was not severe enough to warrant a surgery, and the patient was left without sensible options. What was desperately needed were options and therapies that were disease modifying and, thus by healing or fixing the issue at hand, would reduce the pain and disability.”

To address the issue, Dr. Desai began working with regenerative medicine injections (platelet rich plasma, amniotic membranes, and autologous stem cell injection procedures) and documenting his work with before and after imaging. “After I’d do the stem cell therapy, I’d rescan patients to assess what was happening, and why the vast majority of patients were feeling better without surgeries or narcotics.   Over the past 7 years I have seen thousands of patients have outstanding pain relief and tissue regeneration.”   Regenerated tissues include: muscle, tendons, ligaments, joints, cartilage, menisci, labrum, facet joints, nerves, and even spinal discs.

In 2009, Dr. Desai fortuitously shared his in-depth research with a thought-leader at an international medical conference on regenerative orthopedics. Soon Dr. Desai had not only made a close friend and colleague in the regenerative field, but was also in demand himself as an international expert.

“It is clear to me that these therapies work, and we’re going to get better and more successful with them as we understand the science more thoroughly,” Dr. Desai says. “The basis is using your own cells and your body’s own reparative ability to heal soft tissue issues or musculoskeletal injuries. Platelets are one of the key cells in initiating the healing response, and are one of the ‘first responders’ to tissue injury. They naturally aggregate to the injury, and break down over time, releasing growth and healing factors to stimulate the body’s regenerative response.”

In degenerative musculoskeletal disease, such as arthritis, tendinosis, or degenerative disc disease, Dr. Desai explains that a poor blood supply to the area means lower concentrations of platelet cells, associated growth factors, and stem cells. This leads to insufficient healing and states of chronic injury and disrepair. Advanced stem cell procedures enable interventional pain physicians and surgeons to go into the PATIENT’S OWN blood stream, fat tissues or bone marrow to get the cells needed to mount the healing response, concentrate them and inject them with precision guidance into the injured tissue.

“What we’re doing is a disease modifying therapy, not just palliative symptom management,” Dr. Desai says. “For the right disease process and states of disrepair, these injections offer a semi-permanent or potentially curative fix. It’s the future of non-operative orthopedics – an interim step for many people, and for others it may eliminate the need for surgery altogether.”

The co-founder of RestorePDX, an interventional sports and spine clinic in Portland, OR, Dr. Desai is already conducting many of these procedures within his office-based lab, and looks forward to continuing his work at the new Oregon Surgical Institute as well, when construction is completed.

“The new collaboration between Regent and West End Surgical to create Oregon Surgical Institute makes sense, not only for those involved in the partnership but for those who will receive treatment from like-minded physicians dedicated to delivering patient-centered care,” Dr. Desai says. “We have a 70-80% success rate with our stem cell work, but there are times when these therapies fail. It is already fantastic that we have a cohesive and collaborative team of physicians working together to help our patients, and I have excellent surgical support in these instances. As the science of regenerative medicine advances, the procedures are expanding in scope and complexity. I strongly believe that many of these interventions will be better served in the ASC setting specifically designed for regenerative orthopedics.”

Regent currently manages nine centers that are performing Outpatient Total Joint Replacement. Click here to download our white paper on joint replacement in an outpatient setting.