The amniotic membrane or “amnion” is a thin tough sac of membrane that protects the embryo during pregnancy against any injuries that can lead to fetal death. The amniotic membrane is the only tissue designed by nature specifically as a universal transplant, protecting the baby and ensuring acceptance by the mother’s immune system. The membrane itself consists of a combination of tissue layers with protective and therapeutic properties, making amnion a unique membrane in the human body.
Human amniotic membrane has been used in medicine for over 100 years, and is now also used to treat difficult-to-heal wounds and soft tissue injuries. When use in surgery, amniotic membrane can be used as a natural biological membrane at the surgical site which aids in reducing inflammation and scarring.
Amniotic membrane has widespread use in the area of eye surgery as a foundation to replace the damaged eye tissue, as a patch, or as a combination of both. Doctors use it to treat a wide range of injury including chemical burns and corneal ulceration.
Amniotic membrane is also used to treat difficult-to-heal wounds, such as burns, diabetic foot ulcers, venous leg ulcers, pressure ulcers, and other wounds that do not heal properly due to the inflammatory process. The amniotic membrane helps to reduce inflammation, promotes soft tissue healing to help close the wound, and reduces the formation of scar tissue.
Amniotic membrane has shown great promise in the area of dentistry to treat gum disease. The use of amniotic membrane to treat gum disease, promotes growth of new cells and tissue to replace the tissue lost. By using the therapeutic effects of the amniotic membrane, the patient can avoid having tissue harvested from his/her soft palate to replace the lost gum tissue.
Placental tissues are a form of fascia tissue in many respects and fascia is one of the most important covering materials in the body. It serves to protect virtually every structure in the body—bones, nerves, muscles, tendons, organs, the spinal cord and the brain. So when trauma or surgery disrupts that natural, protective fascia covering, amniotic membranes are structurally and by composition, extremely similar if not precise transplants. Ultimately, amniotic membranes are a way of putting all the parts back the way the surgeon found them originally.
Many believe that the use of amnion is safer for the patient because it avoids the need to harvest tissue from the patient or cadavers. Harvesting tissue from the patient can be quite painful and because of the second site, increases the risk of infection. Amniotic membrane has the potential to be used to help heal tens of thousands of donor recipients each year.
Donor screening and blood testing is performed for each donation according to strict guidelines set forth by both the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the American Association of Tissue Banks (AATB) to guard against any donation that poses a risk of infectious disease transmission.