A recently published study in Knee Surgery, Sports Traumatology, Arthroscopy by Kon et al, indicates Platelet-Rich Plasma (PRP) can reduce pain and improve knee function in patients with degenerative cartilage lesions and osteoarthritis of the knees. The study concluded that when PRP is injected into degenerative knees, it can improve quality of life with short-term efficacy.
91 patients were available for evaluation after 12 months, and 90 were evaluated 12 months later, at the study’s 2 year evaluation point. Because 24 patients had a bilateral lesion, 114 knees were treated. All patients had chronic degeneration and were treated with a series of 3 intra-articular, PRP injections. Through a variety of objective and subjective evaluations levels of pain, range of motion, complications and adverse events, and satisfaction levels, results were compiled.
Patients saw significant improvement in their knee conditions at the 12 month follow-up, but their 24 month evaluations indicted that conditions had worsened since. While 24 month evaluations indicated patients were in better shape than at the beginning of the study (basal levels), knee conditions had worsened between 12-24 months. Researchers found the median duration of clinical improvement was 9 months.
From a relative perspective, the size of this study is substantial, as a recently published study focusing on the same degenerative knee condition (authored by Steven Sampson D.O.) revolved around 13 patients at a 12 month evaluation point. The currentstudy by Kon et al, provides a larger sample size and more detailed results. In Dr. Sampson’s study, 8 patients expressed favorable treatment results at 12 month follow-up (61%). Kon et al saw similar subjective score percentages (60% expressing improvement at 12 month follow-up). Additionally, the Kon et al study’s objective observation scores (evaluating patient knee function relative to normally functioning knees) were a bit higher than subjective scores, with 67% of patients retaining nearly normal functions (function). Both objective and subjective scores dropped between 12-24 months (subjective scores to 51% and objective to 59%).
Because the study had no control group and patients were evaluated against their basal levels, it is impossible to fully determine to what extent these conditions would have improved on their own. Future studies could provide more accurate findings using a control group. The most important conclusion one can extract from this study: short term quality of life is improved with a series of intra-articular PRP injections to degenerative cartilage lesions of the knee, but further research is needed to determine how continual knee improvement can occur.