Use of Adipose-Derived Orthobiologics for Musculoskeletal Injuries: A Narrative Review

PM R. 2020 Aug;12(8):805-816. doi: 10.1002/pmrj.12291. Epub 2020 Jan 14.


Musculoskeletal injuries are among the most prevalent, disabling, and costly conditions that Americans face, affecting over half of those over 18 and nearly 75% of those over 65 years old. Current treatments are largely palliative for many of these conditions and unmet needs have warranted the emergence of alternative treatments. Orthobiologics, such as adipose tissue derivatives (ATDs), are of high interest because they can be obtained in the office setting and their cellular components, including adipose stem cells and stromal cells, are thought to be beneficial in the treatment of musculoskeletal injuries. Microfragmented adipose tissue (MFAT) and stromal vascular fraction (SVF) are two ATD injectates that are used in the clinical setting to treat musculoskeletal conditions. Our review aimed to clarify the terminology describing the various ATDs used for orthopedic indications while discussing the promising but low-quality evidence, heterogeneity in MFAT and SVF processing methods, and inconsistencies in reported information such as injectate characterization with cell counts, injection technique, and postprocedural rehabilitation.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adipose Tissue* / cytology
  • Cell- and Tissue-Based Therapy*
  • Humans
  • Musculoskeletal System / injuries*
  • Stem Cells
  • Stromal Cells