Lifewatch: Platelet-rich plasma therapy

Reported by Claire Hosmann - bio|email
Posted by Debra Worley - email

(WECT) - Platelet-rich plasma therapy is a treatment used to aid the regeneration of ligament and tendon injuries.  This is a new favorite for both doctors and patients, because it shortens recovery time and often eliminates the need for surgery.

Three weeks ago, 16-year-old Kolby Lejeune couldn't perform the simple task of bending her leg without pain.  When orthopedic surgeon, Dr. David Drez, diagnosed her injury as inflammation in her patella tendon, she had the choice of giving up marching band to ease the pain or try a new treatment option.

"There was absolutely no option of quitting marching band," said Kolby.  "I plan to attend college and it's a scholarship."

With her determination to keep on going, Dr. Drez suggested platelet-rich plasma therapy for Kolby.  The treatment involves the extraction and injection of a person's own serum into the injured area.

"It has various growth factors in it that accelerate or kick-start the healing process," said Dr. Drez.

It takes about 15 minutes to get a person's blood separated to what will and will not be used:

"Draw the blood, spin it down, we separate the clotted red cells and white blood cells from the serum, which is the yellowish fluid," said Dr. Drez.  "That's put into a syringe and injected into the area of where the inflammation exists."

Like oil and water, the platelet-rich plasma separates in a solid layer above the red blood cells.  Dr. Drez said the injection of the serum back into the patient is extremely safe.

"It has absolutely no detrimental effects, because one is using the patient's own blood or serum to do this," said Dr. Drez.

Kolby had her first, and only, injection two weeks ago and is already back in step with her high school band.

The only side effect noted at this time is discomfort for 24-48 hours at the site of the injection.