Karl Stark, MD

Vascular Surgeon, Karl Stark, MD

A stem cell clinical trial is underway at North Kansas City Hospital to determine if it’s possible to regrow arteries in people with critical limb ischemia (CLI), a severe form of peripheral arterial disease that significantly reduces blood flow to the hands, feet and legs, causing severe pain and increasing the risk of amputation. Karl Stark, MD, a vascular surgeon and director of our Wound Healing Center, is leading the nation in the cutting-edge research.

Dr. Stark is conducting clinical trials using stem cells harvested from the patient’s bone marrow. His study seeks to determine if treatment with adult stem cells taken from the patient’s own bone marrow can improve healing and prevent amputation. “This treatment is a game changer for patients at high risk for losing a limb and for whom nothing else works,” Dr. Stark says. Once harvested, the stem cells most likely to assist in re-growing the impaired arteries are selected, concentrated and then infused into the affected limb’s arteries to form new ones.

Stem Cell TherapyThe new arteries restore blood flow to the affected limb, increasing the likelihood of a healthier leg. Because Dr. Stark uses stem cells obtained from the patient versus a donor, the risk of side effects is essentially removed. “We are yielding incredible results with these trials,” states Dr. Stark, who adds that early trial results show improved limb recovery rates at 60%. “We are seeing a lot of interest from around the country in our stem cell clinical trials,” Dr. Stark noted. “North Kansas City Hospital is at the forefront of this research.” Dr. Stark has been in practice for more than 30 years. He specializes in vascular surgery and is a leader in open and endovascular surgical techniques and chronic wound treatment.