Greek researchers compared the healing results of Platelet-rich Plasma injections (PRP) to autologous blood injections in 28 patients with lateral epicondylitis (tennis elbow). These results were recently reported in Prague at the SICTO XXV Triennial World Conference 2011. Athanassios Papanikolaou, MD, explained that the study’s aim was to discover whether PRP had a distinct advantage over a less expensive injection of autologous blood.
The research conducted in Athens at Hellenic Red Cross Hospital placed patients into an autologous blood injection group (control) or a PRP group (study), with 14 patients in each. Each patient received a single 3-ml injection. PRP was prepared using the Biomet GPS III system with “sufficient” concentration levels.
Both groups saw continual improvement in pain reduction. The PRP group did slightly better in the two different measuring systems used: VAS and Liverpool scores. The greatest difference came at 6 week follow-up indicated by VAS scores, where the PRP group improved 3.8 points compared to 2.5 point improvement in the control group.
Differences at 3 weeks, 3 months and 6 months varied only slightly. With an FDA study funded by Biomet in the works, substantial information about PRP’s effectiveness and application is on the horizon. While researchers noted using Biomet’s centrifuge system, they did not report specific PRP concentration levels beyond saying that steps were taken to assure concentration levels were sufficient. Whether patients had undergone conservative treatments prior to the study and the degree of their injuries (mild, chronic, severe, etc.), has yet to be discussed. All of these considerations are crucial for researchers to include in coming studies.
Reference: Papanikolaou A, Thanassas C, Papadimitriou G, et al. Chronic lateral elbow epicondylitis treated with either platelet rich plasma or autologous whole blood. A randomized controlled clinical trial. Paper #29518. Presented at the SICOT XXV Triennial World Congress 2011. Sept. 6-9. Prague.