The rupturing of the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) is common among high-level athletes. Return to professional athletics usually requires 6-7 months, leaving athletes sidelined. Ways to minimize healing time has been a topic of interest that led researchers to perform a study where platelet-rich plasma gel (PRPG) was added to ACL grafts (the functioning substitute for the ruptured ligament). Excellent outcomes have been reported with other clinical applications of autologous PRPG. By adding PRPG to the graft, it was believed the healing process may be accelerated and the strength of the graft would increase.
Radice et al published the prospective, single-blinded study showing the effects of Platelet-Rich Plasma gel on anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) reconstruction. The study focused on fifty male and female athletes, between the ages of 18-35, who had undergone ACL reconstruction. Using Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI), the study concluded when added to ACL grafts, Platelet-Rich Plasma gel reduced healing time by “at least 48%.” On average, healing was reduced from 369 days without PRP gel, to 179 days.
While a follow-up exam will reveal more information about long-term graft strength, based on this study, it is clear PRPG is effective in shortening recovery following ACL reconstructive surgery. This is significant as only two other studies have shown Platelet-rich plasma in a gel form, to have an enhancing effect on tendon and ligament healing in humans.
Radice F. Yanez R. Roselas J. Pinado M. Coda S. Comparison of magnetic resonance imaging findings in anterior cruciate ligament grafts with and without autologous platelet-derived growth factors. Arthroscopy. 2010;26: 50-7.