In this week’s installment of Ask the Expert, Dr. Scott Rodeo, Orthopedic Surgeon and Associate Team Physician for the New York Giants, answers questions on platelet rich plasma treatment.
1. What is platelet rich plasma?
A. Platelet-rich plasma represents platelets concentrated from whole blood combined with plasma. There is tremendous variability in different commercial preparations of PRP, with variability in the concentration of platelets, white blood cells, red blood cells, and various plasma proteins.
2. How does the treatment work?
A. The platelets contain various proteins that can improve cell proliferation, blood vessel ingrowth, and eventual tissue healing. PRP is given to patients through an injection, and ultrasound guidance can assist in the precise placement of PRP. After the injection, a patient must avoid exercise for a short period of time before beginning a rehabilitation exercise program.
3. What conditions can be treated with PRP?
A. PRP has been examined for the treatment of a number of musculoskeletal conditions, including injury to tendon, ligament, cartilage, muscle, meniscus, and bone. The most promising data is for degenerative tendon problems, such as tennis elbow and patellar tendinitis in the knee.
4. Is PRP treatment effective?
A. Overall, the data to support efficacy of PRP is very limited. There is some data demonstrating a positive effect in the treatment of degenerative tendinopathy. However, the existing literature is largely inconclusive. Furthermore, there is no data to suggest that PRP leads to true tissue regeneration in most circumstances.
5. Are there any risks with PRP treatment?
A. The risks of PRP treatment are minimal, since this is blood derived from the same patient. There is a remote risk of infection from the blood aspiration or the injection at the treatment site. An adverse or allergic response to PRP would be highly unlikely since this is autologous material.
Dr. Scott Rodeo is an orthopedic surgeon and the co-chief of the Sports Medicine and Shoulder Service at Hospital for Special Surgery. He specializes in sports medicine injuries of the knee, shoulder, ankle, and elbow. He also performs arthritis surgery of the knee and shoulder, including joint replacement surgery. Dr. Rodeo is Associate Team Physician for the New York Giants and has taken care of the team through four Super Bowl appearances.