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A trend developing in orthopedic surgery involves the addition of platelet-rich plasma (PRP) in knee arthroscopy. Research seems to suggest that surgical outcome might be improved by adding PRP at the time of surgery.

PRP is a serum created by concentrating platelets from a patient’s whole blood. PRP works by stimulating local stem cells and other cells to repair the body faster or to prompt repair in an area that was unable to repair itself. Leukocyte-poor PRP is PRP from which the white blood cells have been removed. Both white and red blood cells left in the PRP can cause inflammation and inhibit the same local stem cells that the platelets are trying to stimulate, so removing both the white and red blood cells should create better PRP.

On May 10, 2014, the Archives of Orthopaedic and Trauma Surgery reported results of a double-blind randomized controlled trial of 58 subjects who underwent knee arthroscopy for meniscal or cartilage degeneration. Twenty-four patients received leukocyte-poor PRP injected into the joint at the time of surgery, and 34 patients did not receive the PRP injection. Pain, function, and quality of life were tested at the time of the surgery, at six weeks, at six months, and at 12 months. The results showed that the PRP enhanced function and lessened pain within six to 12 months compared with the control group.

Adding PRP is a step in the right direction. The researchers were correct in thinking that adding PRP at the end of the surgery would be helpful in healing tissue damage created by the surgery. Next question: Wouldn’t it make more sense to altogether avoid the damage of surgery by using the healing potential of PRP to treat the meniscus or cartilage directly?

“Does Using PRP in Knee Arthroscopy Improve Outcome?” first appeared as a post on the Regenexx blog.