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Platelet-Rich Plasma Therapy.... What exactly is it?

Platelet-Rich Plasma is not a drug.  

Platelet-Rich Plasma is not a nutraceutical.  

Platelet-Rich Plasma facilitates tissue healing and reduces inflammation.

Platelet-Rich Plasma is safe.

Platelet Rich Plasma is relatively inexpensive.

Platelet-rich plasma (PRP) is derived from blood of the patient which is centrifuged to remove red blood cells and white blood cells, and was first used as a healing modality in the 1950's.

Similar in some ways to Stem Cell Therapy, PRP utilizes components from the patients own system - blood - refines it to concentrate the platelet portion via a centrifuge, and then it is re-injected into the patient (usually to the required site of pain or inflammation) with the goal of promoting tissue repair and resolution of injury.

PRP does not involve invasive harvesting of cells or a long waiting period for lab prep as required for Stem Cell Therapy.  It is also acquired at a much lower cost than stem cell therapy, allowing more patients to benefit from regenerative medicine in a safe, effective manner.

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So How Does PRP Work?

Platelets are made in your bone marrow along with your white and red blood cells.  Platelets are only about 20% of the diameter of red blood cells.  The normal platelet count is 175,000 - 500,000 per microliter of blood in a dog, but since platelets are so small, they make up just a tiny fraction of the blood volume.  The principal function of platelets is to prevent bleeding.

Tissue maintenance and repair involves a complicated system of chemical events and cellular activities.  Platelets play a vital role in this process and also in how our blood clots when bleeding occurs. Platelets perform their roles via more than 1,100 proteins which include Growth Factors, Enzymes, Immune-System Messenger Molecules and many other biologically active compounds related to tissue repair.  

PRP concentrates these platelet agents into a mixture that is directly injected into an area of injury to "kick-start" recovery.  At a certain dose, the proteins in PRP (e.g: Growth factors) stimulate the healing process.

 

So How Is PRP Made?

A patients blood is obtained via venipuncture (a regular blood drawer) and is then placed into a special centrifuge capable of concentrating platelets.  The centrifuge "spins" the blood at up to 7,000 RPMs and divides the Plasma (the water component of blood) and Platelets from the Red and White Blood Cells.

The remaining PRP solution is then kept under sterile conditions until ready for use the same day.  Each volume of blood drawn from the patient typically yields 10-16% of Platelet-Rich Plasma.

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What Is PRP Used For?

The clinical applications of PRP include:

  • Decreasing pain and swelling after surgery,
  • Improving the quality and speed of bone healing,
  • Decreasing recovery time after surgery, such as for cruciate ligament (ACL) repair,
  • Decreasing the rate of infection in wounds.

In humans, PRP has been used in cardiac bypass surgery, plastic surgery, dermatology, orthopedic surgery, and many other applications.

Furthermore, PRP can help regenerate intervertebral disc material in dogs with intervertebral disc disease (herniated discs).

The most common use of PRP is for tendon/ligament/muscle injuries such as cruciate ligament (ACL) tears in the knee joint, and osteoarthritis (joint degeneration).  An exciting aspect of PRP is the degree to which PRP aids in cartilage repair in patients with arthritic joints.  Several human and animal trials have shown improvement in joint function and decreased joint stiffness and pain.

PRP may also have a role in repairing nerves in neurological conditions (it is currently undergoing research in both the human and veterinary worlds).

How is PRP Applied To The Patient?

Once the blood is retrieved from a patient and prepped to obtain PRP via a centrifuge, a solution of concentrated platelets is injected directly into an injured tissue area, usually with the patient moderately and briefly sedated.  The objective is to "kick-start" or further stimulate the patients healing process.  

It can be injected into:

  • Wounds,
  • Tendons,
  • Ligaments,
  • Joints,
  • intravenously.

 

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The potential for augmented and improved tissue healing using a simple and relatively inexpensive therapy obtained directly from the patient itself, and outstanding results, is driving the continued use and investigation of Platelet-Rich Plasma Therapy.

Please call and ask to speak to one of our veterinarians if you think your pet could benefit from this ground breaking therapy, offered at Stockton Veterinary Hospital, Stockton, NJ. 

609-483-2590.

 

"We have more to learn from animals than animals have to learn from us."

Charlotte Read-Kydd