Health Beat: Doctors use patients' own blood to treat injuries
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Platelet Rich Plasma Therapy (PRP) is a treatment being newly applied to tendon injuries and osteoarthritis. Although PRP was developed 30 years ago to aid in wound healing and blood loss, researchers recently found it can also facilitate the healing of tendons and cartilage.
Dr. Steven Sampson
Los Angeles, CA
In PRP, a patient's blood is taken and spun in a centrifuge to single out platelets.
"Platelets, we've learned in the last 20 years, release powerful growth factors that stimulate healing and regenerate tissues," Steven Sampson, D.O., physical medicine and rehabilitation
specialist at the Orthohealing Center in Los Angeles, Calif., said.
Then, under ultrasound guidance, doctors inject the platelets into the injured area.
"Basically, we're mimicking the natural ability of the body to heal itself," Dr. Sampson explained. "We're taking these platelets and increasing them up to ten-fold and then reintroducing them into the body, almost tricking the body [into thinking] that there's a new injury to maximize healing."
Dr. Sampson is currently involved in an FDA trial testing PRP in the treatment of tennis elbow.
In another study Dr. Sampson is submitting for publication, he treated 13 patients with moderate to severe knee arthritis with a series of three PRP injections four weeks apart. The patients had failed many conservative treatments.
He said results show 62 percent of patients expressed "overall satisfaction" one year after treatment, and patients reported no long-term complications. Dr. Sampson reports that patients showed statistically significant improvement in pain scores.
Dr. Sampson said patients who follow a course of physical therapy following PRP treatment are likely to see the most improvement.
RISKS: Although doctors say risks associated with PRP are uncommon, they include pain, infection, worsening of symptoms, blood clots, nerve injury, skin discoloration, calcification, scarring, loss of fat and allergic reaction.