What is platelet-rich plasma (PRP)?
Platelet-rich plasma is a portion of the blood that has been processed to contain a higher concentration of platelets than in the whole blood. The PRP contains platelets and varying numbers of white blood cells (WBCs) and red blood cells (RBCs). PRP also contains other growth factors and substances that are normally in the plasma, such as insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1). Platelet-rich plasma can be injected at a site of injury, or it can be made into a platelet-rich fibrin clot (PFRC) to use as a scaffold and source for sustained release of growth factors.
Why use PRP?
Platelets contain many growth factors and signaling molecules in their granules. These growth factors reduce the expression of inflammatory cytokines which dampens the neutrophil response and the production of destructive matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs). Additionally, they encourage proliferation and differentiation of resident cells. The goal is that the body’s natural healing response is enhanced by delivering a high concentration of growth factors directly to the site of injury.
How is PRP prepared?
The most common way to prepare PRP is to draw the patient’s blood and then separate the blood using one or two spins in a centrifuge. When the whole blood is spun, it separates out into a layer of red cells, a buffy coat layer that contains the platelets and WBCs, and platelet poor plasma. Some systems recommend a second centrifugation to further concentrate the platelets. The platelets can then be activated if desired. Activating the platelets before injection causes them to release the contents of their granules and will also start clot formation. The higher the platelet concentration, the more growth factors are available. Moreover, WBC-rich PRP has higher concentrations of inflammatory cytokines and MMPs, suggesting that reducing the WBC concentration may be more important than boosting the platelet concentration.
How successful is PRP in treating orthopedic injuries?
PRP has been used in humans for a variety of orthopedic conditions, including tendon/ligament injuries, osteoarthritis, muscle injuries, meniscal tears, cartilage defects, fractures, total joint arthroplasties, and others. In veterinary medicine, PRP has most often been reported for tendon/ligament injuries and osteoarthritis. In a blinded, controlled clinical study of canine patients with elbow osteoarthritis, intra-articular injection with a PRP-related product, called autologous conditioned plasma, resulted in similar improvement as dogs receiving an intra-articular injection of a corticosteroid and hyaluronic acid. PRP can be used for several other conditions such as ocular ulcers, nonhealing wounds, and skin grafts.
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If you are considering using PRP or would like more information regarding natural healing techniques call Meadowlands Veterinary Hospital at 201-646-2008 or
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