A systematic review of the use of platelet-rich plasma in sports medicine as a new treatment for tendon and ligament injuries

Drew W Taylor, Massimo Petrera, Mike Hendry, John S Theodoropoulos
Clinical Journal of Sport Medicine: Official Journal of the Canadian Academy of Sport Medicine 2011, 21 (4): 344-52

OBJECTIVE: To evaluate, through a systematic review of the current literature, the evidence-based outcomes of the use of platelet-rich plasma (PRP) for the treatment of tendon and ligament injuries.

DATA SOURCES: A search of English-language articles was performed in PubMed and EMBASE using keywords "PRP," "platelet plasma," and "platelet concentrate" combined with "tendon" and then "ligament" independently. The search was conducted through September 2010.

STUDY SELECTION: Search was limited to in vivo studies. Nonhuman studies were excluded. Tissue engineering strategies, which included a combination of PRP with additional cell types (bone marrow), were also excluded. Articles with all levels of evidence were included. Thirteen of 32 retrieved articles respected the inclusion criteria.

DATA EXTRACTION: The authors reviewed and tabulated data according to the year of study and journal, study type and level of evidence, patient demographics, method of PRP preparation, site of application, and outcomes.

DATA SYNTHESIS: The selected studies focused on the application of PRP in the treatment of patellar and elbow tendinosis, Achilles tendon injuries, rotator cuff repair, and anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) reconstruction. Seven studies demonstrated favorable outcomes in tendinopathies in terms of improved pain and functional scores. In 3 studies on the use of PRP in ACL reconstruction, no statistically significant differences were seen with regard to clinical outcomes, tunnel widening, and graft integration. One study examined the systemic effects after the local PRP application for patellar and elbow tendinosis.

CONCLUSIONS: Presently, PRP use in tendon and ligament injuries has several potential advantages, including faster recovery and, possibly, a reduction in recurrence, with no adverse reactions described. However, only 3 randomized clinical trials have been conducted.

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