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Sutter Orthopedic Institute Surgeon Cautions Use of Platelet Rich Plasma in Surgical Repair

Posted by on May 3, 2013 in Orthopedics | 0 comments

Stephen Weber, M.D.

Stephen Weber, M.D.

Kobe Bryant went to Germany two years ago to receive platelet rich plasma (PRP) therapy on his ailing joints, and retired NBA All-Star Brandon Roy tried to make a comeback after receiving PRP treatments for his knee issues. Even Tiger Woods tried PRP therapy. Because of this high-profile publicity, other athletes and even weekend warriors are flocking to their orthopedic surgeons for PRP therapy. While it has FDA approval, early results have been mixed and health insurance companies will not cover the procedure.

But does PRP actually work? Sacramento orthopedic surgeon Stephen Weber, M.D., led a research study on the use of PRP during arthroscopic rotator cuff repair. This double-blinded, randomized study, recently published in the American Journal of Sports Medicine, compared the outcomes of rotator cuff surgery with or without platelet rich fibrin membrane (PRFM) augmentation in regards to perioperative pain, recovery of shoulder function and structural outcomes. The study ultimately showed that PRP did not make a difference in healing.

In a PRP procedure, a small amount of blood is drawn from the patients arm. This blood is placed in a centrifuge to isolate platelets, known for their healing qualities. During surgery, the PRP is applied into the patient’s injured area to try to stimulate tissue repair. The concept is to use growth factors from the patient’s own body to aid healing.

Arthroscopic rotator cuff repair has been a safe and effective procedure for patients with symptomatic rotator cuff tears. However, despite the success, anatomic failure has been documented in as many as 80 percent of repairs on follow-up imaging studies.

“The PRP study represented the first rigorous, prospective randomized study on the topic of PRP in shoulder surgery,” said Dr. Weber.  “People need to understand the significance of the study and realize the difference between clinical study results and anecdotal information of medical products often distributed by the lay press.”

Dr. Weber urges the public to be cautious when looking to pursue a PRP treatment. According to Dr. Weber, medical products such as PRP, while they tend to look good at first and are marketed to professional athletes, can later be shown to be ineffective and in some cases cause harm. “Ask questions of your providers and be a skeptic about things that sound too good to be true,” said Dr. Weber.

Other tips Dr. Weber has for consumers who are interested in PRP treatments include checking with your physician and being cautious about web sites that you may visit.

Posted by on May 3, 2013 in Orthopedics | 0 comments